21 March 2020 is #WorldDownSyndromeDay. This year’s theme is #WeDecide, a campaign encouraging all people with Down Syndrome to participate fully in decision making that affects their lives. Physiotherapists who work with children and adults with Down Syndrome can play a role in empowering and advocating for effective and meaningful participation in health-related decision making.
Physiotherapists can also make a difference to the lives of those with Down Syndrome by working with individuals and families to encourage development of motor skills, independence in activities of daily living, as well as participation in physical activity. They can help address issues such as motor incoordination, muscle weakness, impaired ventilation, and reduced exercise tolerance.
There is a growing body of clinical research to guide the physiotherapy management of people with Down Syndrome. PEDro currently indexes over 80 trials and systematic reviews evaluating physiotherapy treatment for people with Down Syndrome. You can explore some recent systematic reviews regarding interventions to improve balance, strength, aerobic fitness, and physical activity participation:
- Hassan NM, et al. Effectiveness of interventions to increase physical activity in individuals with intellectual disabilities: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials. J Intellect Disabil Res 2019;63(2):168-91
- Ruiz-Gonzalez L, et al. Physical therapy in Down Syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Intellect Disabil Res 2019;63(8):1041-67
- Maiano C, et al. Do exercise interventions improve balance for children and adolescents with Down Syndrome? A systematic review. Phys Ther 2019;99(5):507-18
Some high-quality randomised controlled trials evaluating physiotherapy treatments for Down Syndrome that are indexed in PEDro include:
- Eid MA. Effect of whole-body vibration training on standing balance and muscle strength in children with Down Syndrome. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 2015;94(8):633-643
- Shields N, et al. A community-based strength training programme increases muscle strength and physical activity in young people with Down Syndrome: a randomised controlled trial. Res Dev Disabil 2013;34(12):4385-94
- Khalili MA, et al. Aerobic exercise improves lung function in children with intellectual disability: a randomised trial. J Physiother 2009;55(3):171-5
To keep up-to-date with the latest trials, reviews and guidelines evaluating physiotherapy interventions for people with Down Syndrome subscribe to the paediatrics feed of PEDro’s Evidence in your inbox. Subscription is free.