Physical Therapy For Down Syndrome: Things You Need To Know

Physical Therapy For Down Syndrome: Things You Need To Know

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that results in developmental delays and a wide range of physical characteristics. For people with Down syndrome, physical therapy can play an important role in improving overall health and quality of life. In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of physical therapy for people with Down syndrome, as well as some things you need to know before starting treatment.

What Is Down Syndrome?

What Is Down Syndrome?Down syndrome is a chromosomal condition that occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.

This condition is characterized by a unique set of facial features, mild to moderate intellectual disability, and short stature. Many individuals with Down syndrome also have heart defects, gastrointestinal problems, hearing loss, and thyroid conditions.

While there is no cure for Down syndrome, early intervention and treatment can help improve the quality of life for individuals with this condition. Physical therapy is one type of treatment that can be beneficial for individuals with Down syndrome.

How Does Physical Therapy For Down Syndrome Work?

There are a number of different ways that physical therapists can work with people who have Down syndrome. The approach will be tailored to the individual, based on their specific needs and abilities.

Improving gross motor skills

This is one common approach. It involves working on activities such as sitting up, crawling, standing and walking. The goal is to help the individual develop their gross motor skills so that they can move around more easily and independently. It works through a combination of exercises, games, and other activities.

Cardiovascular fitness

This approach focuses on improving the individual’s cardiovascular fitness. It is important to note that people with Down syndrome have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Therefore, it is important to focus on exercises that will help improve the individual’s cardiovascular fitness.

Resistance training

This type of physical therapy focuses on improving the individual’s strength and muscle tone. In resistance training, an individual works against a force, whether it is their own body weight, resistance bands, or free weights. This type of physical therapy can help improve an individual’s strength, stamina, and overall functional ability.

Focusing on balance and coordination

Another common approach is to focus on improving balance and coordination. This can help with activities such as walking, climbing stairs, and getting in and out of chairs. For example, a therapist might have a child walk along a line or try to stand on one leg.

Range-of-motion exercises

Range-of-motion exercises are important for people with Down syndrome because they help keep the joints flexible and prevent stiffness. These exercises should be done every day and can be done either with or without resistance. It is also believed that range-of-motion exercises can help improve balance and coordination.

So you can see that there are many benefits that come with doing physical therapy for Down syndrome. If you or your child has this condition, be sure to talk to your doctor about starting a program. It could make all the difference in their quality of life.

What Are Some Exercises For Down Syndrome?

As physical therapy largely works to improve range of motion, strength, and endurance, there are a wide variety of exercises that can be beneficial for people with Down syndrome. Here are a few examples:

Ankle Circles

The ankle circles are a great way to improve the range of motion in your ankles. To do this exercise:

  • Sit on the floor with your legs outstretched in front of you.
  • Place a small towel under each ankle.
  • Gently lift one foot off the ground and make small circles with your ankle.
  • Do 10 circles in one direction, then 10 in the other direction.
  • Switch to the other foot and repeat.

Heel Raises

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold onto a countertop or sturdy chair for balance. Slowly raise up onto your toes, then lower back down. Repeat 10 to 15 times. These are believed to help with flexibility, movement, and muscle strength.


Start by having your child take small steps while holding onto your fingers or support. As they get stronger, you can increase the distance between each step. This helps with balance and coordination. A simple walk can help you and your child gets some exercise while spending time together.

Hamstring Curls

This type of exercise is designed to strengthen the muscles in the back of the thigh. To do this exercise, you will need a resistance band or a set of light dumbbells. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Wrap the resistance band around your ankles and hold onto the ends with your hands. Bend your knees and curl your legs up towards your buttocks. Return to the starting position and repeat for 10-15 repetitions.

Hip Hikes

Finally, hip hikes can help you with down syndrome by improving your balance and aiding in mobility. To do a hip hike,

  • Start by standing up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Then, raise your left hip as high as you can while keeping your right foot planted on the ground.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds before lowering your hip back down to the starting position.
  • Repeat this exercise 10 times on each side.

One of the main goals of physical therapy for down syndrome is to improve the individual’s balance and coordination. Hip hikes are a great way to help with this because they work on stabilizing the hips and pelvis.

Calf Raises

Calf RaisesPlace your feet hip-width apart and press down into the balls of both feet to raise your heels up off the ground. Slowly lower back down. Repeat 10 to 15 times. Calf raises are often part of a physical therapist’s recommendations for strengthening the muscles in the legs, which can help with balance and coordination.

So, overall these are just a few of the many examples of exercises that can be included in physical therapy for down syndrome. Remember that every individual is different and what works for one might not work for another. The key is to experiment and find what works best for you or your child.

Can This Condition Be Prevented?

While Down syndrome cannot be cured, in many cases it can be prevented. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk.

First, you should talk to your doctor about your risks. If you have a family history of Down syndrome or if you are over the age of 35, your risk is increased. Your doctor can help you understand your risks and take steps to reduce them.

There are also genetic tests that can be done during pregnancy to check for Down syndrome. These tests, called screening tests, can give you an idea of your risk, but they cannot tell for sure if your baby has the condition.

If you are at high risk for having a baby with Down syndrome, you may be offered a diagnostic test. This test can tell for sure if your baby has the condition.

How Can I Find The Right Physical Therapist?

Well, first of all, you need to know that there are different types of physical therapists. You have the choice of going to a hospital, a clinic, or even a private practice. There are also online directories that can help you find the right one for you.

The most important thing is that you find a physical therapist who has experience working with Down syndrome patients. This is because they will know how to better assess and treat the unique physical needs of those with Down syndrome.

Here are a few tips to help you find the best physical therapist for your needs:

  • Get a referral from your doctor or another trusted healthcare professional.
  • Ask family and friends for recommendations.
  • Check out online directories of physical therapists.
  • Once you have a few names, call and ask about their experience working with Down syndrome patients.
  • Make sure you feel comfortable with the therapist and that they offer services that meet your needs.

By following these tips, you should be able to find a physical therapist who can help you or your loved one manage the physical challenges of Down syndrome. Hence, you should not hesitate to ask for help from professionals like these.


In a nutshell, down syndrome physical therapy is often used to help improve the individual’s quality of life. It can help with things like increasing muscle strength, improving coordination and balance, and reducing pain. You should talk to your doctor or therapist to see if this type of therapy is right for you or your child.

Physical Therapy has always been proven to help patients recover from pain. Hence, if you’re experiencing Back painShoulder painKnee painNeck painElbow painHip pain, or Arthritis pain, a physical therapist at MantraCare can help: Book a physiotherapy session.

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