Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. According to the National Down Syndrome Society, one in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome, occuring in all races and economic levels. Since the 1980s, October has been recognized as Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and the work of increasing public awareness and acceptance of people with Down syndrome is ongoing.
Many faculty and staff at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, through the various professions represented and taught, work with and support people with Down syndrome. Dana Tischler, PT, DPT, MS, PCS a pediatric physical therapist (PT) and faculty member of the RMUoHP Doctor of Physical Therapy program shares her experiences as a PT working with people with Down syndrome.
Tischler explains how every age group benefits from working with a physical therapist.
“Infants and children with Down syndrome benefit from regular evaluation and treatment provided by a physical therapist in order to promote physical and social development,” said Tischler.
“Older children with DS (Down syndrome) also benefit from periodically working with a PT to learn skills such as running, jumping, kicking, and climbing,” said Tischler.
People with Down syndrome can maximize their lifestyle by working with PTs in a variety of settings. “In a school setting, the PT supports the child’s participation in the school day, working on getting up and down from the floor for circle time, playing on the playground, and moving throughout the school,” said Tischler.
But the benefits of physical therapy extend beyond the classroom. “PTs can help promote recreational activities and fitness, to build skills for an active lifestyle. PTs also help older individuals with DS to develop their motor skills.
Tischler adds that working with the families of those with Down syndrome is an important part of what they do. “Physical therapists who treat children with DS work very closely with the family to ensure that the skills worked on in a therapy session are practiced several times throughout the day to improve gross motor skill carryover.”
Early intervention for young children with DS, according to Tischler, “can help a child maximize their developmental potential and engagement with their family.” The work they do makes a difference for life.
For more information on Down Syndrome Awareness month or for Down Syndrome resources, visit the National Down Syndrome Society.