The development of early gross motor skills, such as sitting, crawling and walking, allows an infant or child with Down Syndrome (DS) to explore their environment and interact with people around them, which is pivotal to their overall development.  However, due to the interplay between certain physical characteristics (such as low muscle tone and increased flexibility in the joints) and the child’s desire to move and explore, children with DS often develop compensatory movement strategies that can lead to longer term complications such as inefficient walking patterns or musculoskeletal pain.  Common examples include moving from their tummy to sitting by pushing back into the splits position, and standing with their knees hyperextended.

It is well known that children with DS achieve their early gross motor milestones at a rate slower than their typically developing peers.  It is therefore important to understand that the goal of physiotherapy for children with DS is not to speed up their achievement of motor milestones, but to facilitate the development of optimal early movement patterns.  This includes developing good posture and alignment of their trunk, arms and legs when sitting or standing, and developing effective and efficient motor patterns for movement.  By working towards optimal movement patterns and minimizing compensatory patterns, physiotherapy aims to allow children with DS to develop the foundational movement skills to maximize their long term functional and physical abilities.

World Down Syndrome Day is on Tuesday 21st March 2017 :