Physical Therapy Treatments – How Physiotherapy is Used in the Treatment of Down Syndrome

When we speak of physiotherapy as a treatment for children suffering from Down syndrome, it must be kept in mind that Down syndrome is a condition that can never be completely treated. Physiotherapy is used not so much to treat the syndrome as to alleviate the complications peculiar to children afflicted by Down syndrome.

Treatment in the early stages of a child with Down syndrome concentrates on addressing four problems common in this phase. The first among these is hypotonia. Children with Down syndrome do not have muscle tone, meaning their muscles are slack and lack control. Hypotonia requires immediate attention since if left untreated it hampers a child ability to develop sufficient motor skills or balance.

A child suffering from Down syndrome also has extremely loose ligaments. Their bones are not adequately supported and their joints remain too loose to allow normal mobility in later years. The early signs of lax ligaments are seen in children with splayed legs while lying down.

Physiotherapy, with the correct exercises, is essential to rectify the muscular weakness present in children with Down syndrome. Incorrect treatment of these issues leads to further complication like locked knees, which develop to make up for the lack of strength in the lower legs. Such reactions are very harmful in the future.

Such children also face problems with their body shape. They have disproportionate limbs in comparison to their torsos, which leads to complications in the way the sit or climb stairs. Something as simple as reaching out for food can be an arduous task for affected children. Physiotherapy addresses issues such as these and helps these children on towards a semblance of normal life.

Early intervention physiotherapy for Down syndrome focuses on rectifying weakness issues and teaching general motor skills to children. Acts like rolling over, crawling, sitting up, and walking all are motor skills that children ultimately have to learn. With the assistance of a physiotherapist, these skills are taught such that the children have a strong foundation upon which to base other motor skills.

In the treatment of children who have Down syndrome, a major hurdle is educating parents on what aspects of their child’s growth should be brought to the attention of a doctor, and subsequently a physiotherapist. Parents often do not know what actually requires the attention of a therapist, because there are several things in their child that are unlike other children.

For example, if a child with Down syndrome is unable to hold her neck upright, it is imperative that the doctor is informed at once so that a physiotherapist can treat the child and assist her to strengthen the muscles in her neck.

Physiotherapy, once started, should ideally be a life-long routine for a Down syndrome afflicted child, as it will help them maintain their fitness and health. People suffering from Down syndrome live as long as other people, and may not be as well-equipped to deal with age-related issues like weakening bones, ligaments or muscles. Continues physiotherapy helps a person living with Down to live a healthy life.

Physiotherapy for these children is not given its due importance till matters often go out of hand. Permanent weaknesses result, leading to odd behavior and disfigurement that could have been avoided with a little more care. Down syndrome physiotherapy should be started as soon as possible so that the child can lead a better, healithier life.

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