Down Syndrome

What is it?

Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects 1 in 700 babies born in the U.S. each year (approximately 6,000 babies). This condition affects more than 6 million people worldwide. Babies with Down Syndrome are born with an extra copy of chromosome 21 which results in physical and mental challenges throughout the lifetime. More than 45% of these individuals are struggling with congenital heart defects and as a result, the average life span for an individual with Down Syndrome is about 60 years old. Although this condition cannot be changed, physical therapists can help prevent some complications that can arise due to developmental delays, obesity, and cardiovascular complications.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • low muscle tone
  • single deep crease across the palm of the hand
  • slightly flattened facial profile with an upward slant to the eyes
  • poor language development and language use
  • vision and hearing problems

How can a physical therapist help?

Due to the physical developmental abnormalities associated with the condition, individuals with Down Syndrome have to work harder than most to maintain physical health. Physical Therapists can help improve and maintain strength, cardiovascular health, balance and coordination, and developmental skills in infants.

Have more questions? Feel free to contact us at 414-858-1361 or email us at


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