People with Down syndrome experience physical health issues differently than people without the condition. This is because of their unique body structure, muscular strength, and motor control problems caused by an extra chromosome. Experts share that specific Down syndrome physical therapy exercises effectively assist people with Downs Syndrome.
How Down Syndrome Affects Physical Health
According to the CDC, it affects about one in every 700 babies born in the US and causes intellectual disability, characteristic facial features, and heart defects. The disorder can also cause poor muscle tone and low muscle mass.
One of the most common disabilities associated with Down Syndrome is a lack of understanding of the body’s physical limitations. This is particularly true for patients who have not been diagnosed with this condition until they are older. They may not have had physical therapy or other types of treatment since they were younger.
People with Down Syndrome often have restricted movement in their arms and hands. This makes it difficult to perform simple everyday tasks like buttoning clothing or putting on shoes. This can be especially problematic for those who are wheelchair users as well.
Physical therapists can help improve these issues by focusing on exercises that target specific problem areas. For example, if someone has difficulty lifting weights overhead, it might help them if their therapist uses light resistance bands instead to work on strengthening their core muscles.
Different Types of Down Syndrome Physical Therapy
Physical therapy can be done in a clinic or at home. It may include exercises, physical aids, and equipment. A physical therapist will help assess the condition and determine the best Down syndrome physical therapy.
Some examples of therapies that may be used to treat Down syndrome are:
- Swimming exercises to strengthen muscles around the shoulders, chest, and arms
- Bracing braces to help support weak back muscles by holding them up (often used during activities such as grocery shopping)
- Down syndrome occupational therapy teaches job skills like cooking or cleaning so people with Down syndrome can live independently
- Speech therapy to improve communication skills and language development
- Physical therapy for Down syndrome strengthens muscles and increases overall strength
Physical therapists work with people with Down Syndrome and help develop adjusted workout plans to help improve their mobility, strength, and coordination skills. Studies show that therapy targeted at people with Down Syndrome significantly improves muscle strength and cardiometabolic profiles. PWDS tend to have comparatively lower VO2max compared, which impacts their livelihood.
These can be improved with guided exercises, physical aids, and the correct equipment.
Benefits of Physical Therapy for Down Syndrome
1. Improves Body Strength
Physical therapy can help with muscle strength training. Suppose you have a physical therapist that is an expert in this area. In that case, they will be able to guide you through exercises that will help improve your body’s ability to move around independently. There’s evidence for significantly more positive physiotherapy intervention started in younger kids by strengthening muscles.
The following examples of exercises are suitable for people with Down syndrome:
- Walking (with or without the use of a walker)
- Swimming laps in a swimming pool or at home (for people who don’t have access to one nearby)
- Pushups/Sit-Ups/Bench Dips – all done at home!
2. Improves Coordination and Balance
Down syndrome patients are at high risk of falling. As they age, they may have difficulty balancing and walking. Physical therapy can help improve one’s balance and coordination, making you less likely to fall. This can reduce the risk of injuries resulting in long-term disabilities or even death if left untreated.
Physical therapists also work with people with Down Syndrome to improve their endurance and strength through exercises that challenge them physically while also helping them learn better ways to use their muscles effectively while moving around in different settings (such as their homes). According to research conducted on children with Down Syndrome, physical therapy was seen to boost coordination twice that in children without therapy.
3. Joints and Body Flexibility
People with Down Syndrome often have joint problems that cause pain and stiffness. Physical therapy can help relieve these symptoms by strengthening the muscles around joints, increasing flexibility, and reducing stress on joints.
People with Down Syndrome often experience stiffness in their neck, back, legs, and arms from side effects such as spasticity (tightness) or contractures (rigidness). When these symptoms occur, physical therapy can help increase flexibility and range of motion at each joint in the body. It also helps strengthen muscles around these joints so they work more efficiently when bending or moving through space.
4. Helps Improve Breathing Problems
People who have breathing problems because of their condition may benefit from breathing exercises designed to reduce stress on respiratory muscles or increase lung capacity.
In fact, in one study, it was noted that strength training was as effective as chest physical therapy on the pulmonary functions of children with Down syndrome.
5. Better Health and Fitness Level
Physical therapy can help you achieve your fitness goals. You may have been working towards a fitness goal and found that you could not reach it because of injuries or other factors. If this is the case, physical therapy can help you get in shape so that when the time comes for your physical activity again, it will be easier than ever before!
People with special needs have certain physical limitations, and specialized physical therapy can help them overcome these. That way, they can learn how to mobilize their bodies and strengthen themselves so they don’t depend on other people for everyday things. As such, physical therapy can help empower them physically and mentally.
6. Identify Mini-Milestones
Physical therapists are trained to help people with disabilities. They can help with various conditions, including autism, cerebral palsy, and Down Syndrome.
Physical therapists can help people with disabilities develop physical skills. They help with walking and running by performing exercises to improve strength and flexibility. They also look for patterns in how the muscles in the body move, which can be useful for identifying mini-milestones and emerging skills.
This is particularly important for people with Down Syndrome because it can be difficult for them to identify their own body’s movements. This is because they need to help to understand cause-anPhysical Therapyad-effect relationships.
Physical therapists use various techniques to help patients improve their overall health. Before starting treatment, they typically work closely with other medical professionals to determine your goals and needs. After assessing your condition and determining how you will benefit from physical therapy, your therapist will create a customized plan based on your unique needs.
7. Reduce Injury Risk
Physical therapy can reduce the risk of injury for people with Down syndrome. There’s research that supports the fact that physical therapy helps in pain management. Since certain movements cause a physical strain for people with Down Syndrome, this physical therapy application can also be beneficial!
Down syndrome patients are more prone to injuries than those without the condition, so physical therapists help improve balance and coordination by teaching them how to avoid injuries. Physical therapists also teach them ways to prevent falls in the future, e.g., learning how to use a walker or wheelchair safely and effectively.
8. Social Interaction
Most people know that physical therapy can help people with Down syndrome improve their physical abilities, but it can also improve their social skills and communication. In fact, physical therapists often refer to these two areas as “social interaction” and “communication.”
Physical therapy can help improve a person’s ability to communicate with others. This includes speaking clearly, using appropriate facial expressions during conversations, and being able to follow instructions when given by someone else.
Physical therapy also helps individuals learn new ways of communicating with others. For example, if they want something from someone else or need help getting something done around the house/home office space (e.g., picking up after themselves).
9. Better Posture
Proper posture is important for everyone, especially people with Down syndrome. When you have a good posture, your body can breathe more easily and properly. It’s also easier to do things such as sit up straight in a chair or stand up straight when you’re walking.
This helps promote digestion, mental health, and physical health by reducing stress on the spine that could cause back pain over time (and other problems). Good posture can also help improve social interactions between people with Down syndrome because it makes them look more confident and self-assured when interacting with others face-to-face.
10. Achieve Movement Skills Needed Throughout Life
Physical therapy can help people with Down syndrome achieve movement skills needed throughout life. According to one study conducted, people who underwent therapy incorporating occupational therapy showed a better adjustment to work demands.
Therapists are trained to provide a variety of exercises that can help people with Down syndrome achieve the same range of motion and muscle strength as those who do not have this condition. The goal is to increase the patient’s range of motion so they can move more efficiently physically and mentally.
For example, If you cannot sit up straight or lift your leg over the back of a chair without assistance from another person (who may be holding onto your arms), down syndrome physical therapy can help you gain these abilities over time by challenging your muscles through controlled exercises at home or in a clinic
Tips on Choosing Physical Therapy for People with Down Syndrome
Choosing the right physical therapy for individuals with Down syndrome is crucial in enhancing their overall well-being and functional abilities. Firstly, it’s essential to seek therapists with experience and expertise in working with individuals with Down syndrome. Understanding the unique needs and potential challenges associated with this condition ensures a tailored and effective therapeutic approach.
Secondly, consider a holistic approach that integrates various therapies, such as occupational and speech therapy, alongside physical therapy. A comprehensive plan addresses physical development, cognitive, and communication aspects. Look for therapists who foster a supportive and inclusive environment, encouraging individuals with Down syndrome to participate in their therapy sessions actively. By selecting physical therapy that aligns with the specific needs and preferences of individuals with Down syndrome it becomes a collaborative journey toward achieving optimal physical and developmental milestones.
Trainers play a crucial role in helping them learn new skills and move toward independence in their daily lives. The good news is that there are various ways to help the brain develop and grow, including Down syndrome physical therapy. Physical therapy may be the only way to increase motor function in people with Down syndrome who have lost some muscle tone due to aging or disease. Reach out to a Special Strong location near you to get a free 7-day pass when you sign up!