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A girl with Down syndrome jumping in a bouncy house with friends.

Some people are born with Down syndrome. DS changes how the brain and body grow. It also can result in physical and mental differences. The changes are usually mild to moderate and last through a person's life.

Even though people with DS have brain and body differences, they can participate in and enjoy family and community activities. They go to school and hold jobs. With proper guidance and exercise, people with DS can lead healthy, fulfilling lives.

Physical activity is vital for people with DS. Regular physical activity can improve physical, mental, and social health. It also can prevent or improve many chronic conditions, such as:

With the help of physical therapists, children and adults with DS can improve their ability to do things as they grow and age. Physical therapists are movement experts. They improve quality of life through hands-on care, education, and prescribed movement.

A physical therapist can help children and adults with DS improve their:

  • Development.
  • Health.
  • Fitness.
  • Ability to do everyday tasks.

A physical therapist will design a program specific to you or your child's needs. The program may include:

1. Improving Developmental Skills

As people grow and age, what they do and how they do it will change. PTs can help your child learn to master movement skills such as:

  • Crawling.
  • Pulling up from sitting to standing.
  • Walking.
  • Ball and playground skills.

PTs can help your child develop healthy movement skills by providing hands-on training for caregivers on positioning, feeding, and play. They will work with you to suggest changes at home that encourage movement and communication.

For teens and adults with DS, a physical therapist can design an exercise program to help you achieve the recommended amount of physical activity.

2. Improving Strength

A PT can teach you fun exercises to improve muscle strength. For children, this can include games and activities that change as the child grows. PTs also may help you find new fitness activities or ways to keep a healthy heart and weight.

3. Improving Balance, Coordination, and Postural Control

People need balance and coordination to support them while doing everyday activities. Physical therapists help children develop balance and coordination skills so they can hold their head properly, sit upright, or walk on uneven surfaces. They may use equipment such as:

  • A firm, round pillow.
  • An exercise ball.
  • Balance beams.
  • Obstacle courses.

Other skills like jumping, skipping, dribbling a ball, or cycling may be a part of a fun physical therapy program. Physical therapists design programs for each person’s age and ability to improve their balance, coordination, and posture and make progress as needs and goals change.

4. Improving Physical Fitness

Your physical therapist will help determine the specific exercises, diet, and community involvement to promote healthy living choices for your child. An active lifestyle that includes taking part in physical activities with family and peers can increase overall health and prevent or improve chronic conditions.

Services provided by a physical therapist may take place in various locations such as:

  • In the home.
  • At a community center.
  • Schools.
  • A physical therapy outpatient clinic.

Treatment priorities will shift throughout a person's life. Physical therapists work with you and other health care specialists to address the changing needs of people with DS.

Physical therapists are movement experts. They improve quality of life through hands on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. You can contact a physical therapist directly for an evaluation. To find a physical therapist in your area, visit Find a PT.

Find a PT Near You!

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