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How Can I Help my Child with Down Syndrome Stand & Walk?

For those parents who have a child with Down Syndrome, some of the many concerns that cross their minds include;  “What lies ahead?”  “Will my child be able to walk?”  “Will they have friends of their own?”  “How can I enhance my child’s development?”  “What can I do to help?

When children reach their motor milestones at a later date, this may impact their ability to interact and socialize with the environment with the people around them.  As a parent, you want to do everything you can to optimize their growth & development, while letting them learn to explore on their own. 

Individuals with Down Syndrome exhibit many characteristics which can affect their ability to crawl, sit & walk.  Such as: ligament laxity, muscle hypotonia, lack of postural stability & joint hypermobility. What does this mean?  These children may not have the strength or ability to sit on their own, pull themselves to stand, or gain the balance they need to take their first steps.  What can you do as a parent to give your child all the tools they need in order to learn to crawl, stand & walk? 

Orthotic devices help give these children the support they require to stand for the first time.  The amount of required support & the degree of hypotonia will determine the best orthotic intervention, whether it be foot
orthoses or supramalleolar orthoses (SMO).  Foot orthoses help distribute the plantar pressures appropriately, support the arch & provide a solid base of support.  SMOs come up above the ankle bone & provide medial lateral support of the ankle, preventing increased calcaneal valgus & pronation. By keeping the feet aligned & directly under the child, we are giving them the support they need to take their first steps. This will allow them to explore their environment and surroundings while standing!

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