Fit with Down syndrome

By Tamara Jalajel, Children’s Physiotherapist

Thousands of people in Jordan have Down syndrome (DS). There are a lot of things a parent can do to support a daughter or son in their development. Most people with DS can lead healthy, active and more independent lives.

Many professionals experienced in supporting children with DS can help children. Here’s how a physiotherapist can help:

Motor skills development

Early motor skills are fundamental to acquire. Thus, a physiotherapist can teach children with DS to crawl, walk, climb stairs and run. They can collaborate with parents and caregivers to enhance their skills to play with their children and position them correctly. Creating a movement-friendly environment encourages movement and play.

Muscle tone and strength

Low muscle tone and strength are associated with DS. Hence, muscle strengthening activities are essential to maintain a functional level. Children with DS often withdraw from difficult physical activities which may result in a motor delay. A physiotherapist’s role is to help a child acquire age adequate motor skills eventually.

Joint hyper flexibility

Children with DS have increased joint flexibility. Musculoskeletal abnormalities, such as scoliosis, can occur as a result. Regular follow-up with a physiotherapist assures early intervention.

Cardiovascular fitness

Almost half of the children with DS have a type of heart disease which may cause decreased cardiovascular fitness. The physiotherapist will plan for exercises that help prevent complications.

The features associated with DS will vary through one’s life, so the need for physiotherapy intervention changes accordingly. It’s important to respect each child’s learning style and then customise the environment to her or his style.

Down syndrome at a glance

Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal abnormality. Specific characteristics associated with DS are congenital heart disease, vision and hearing impairments, motor development delay and learning disability. The delay varies from one individual to another for an unknown reason. The average lifespan of a person with DS has increased compared with the past due to advanced medical interventions. Multidisciplinary rehabilitation services from early childhood foster overall development

You can contact Jalajel at