Physical Therapy Treatments For Adults With Down Syndrome

Physical Therapy Treatments For Adults With Down Syndrome | Capitol Physical Therapy | Washington DC Physical Therapists

Down syndrome is a genetic condition that occurs when you are born with an extra copy of the 21st chromosome.

Down syndrome can affect your physical and mental development and function, and can make performing daily tasks more difficult.

A number of adverse medical conditions may also accompany Down syndrome, which can provide even more challenges.

Comorbid medical conditions will vary with each person that has Down syndrome.

Regardless of the extent of your condition, it’s a good idea to incorporate physical therapy into your treatment plan in order to stay as active and healthy as possible.

Here at our Washington DC physical therapy clinic, we offer an array of resources to help you reach and maintain your physical goals.

If you or a loved one has Down syndrome, there’s no time like the present to start physical therapy.

You’ll want to make sure your physical therapist is a qualified neuro physical therapist because of the genetic nature of your condition.

This way, you can be sure you’re working with a specialist who knows how to help.

Keep reading to find out more about Down syndrome and how physical therapy can help.

What Is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome is a condition where you are born with an extra copy of your 21st chromosome.

Chromosomes are a type of structure that carry genetic information between cells in your body.

They are made up of a combination of proteins and DNA.

Anyone can be born with Down syndrome.

It typically occurs randomly, usually through a random genetic mutation of some sort.

With this condition, you will have 47 chromosomes, rather than the typical 46 chromosomes total, or 23 pairs.

Down syndrome is often characterized by physical and mental developmental delays.

While this condition is life long, you can still have a healthy and full life with Down syndrome.

This is because of recent medical, cultural, and institutional advances that provide opportunities to overcome the challenges of the condition.

Everyone with Down syndrome will differ in which health conditions impact them, but here are some general ones that can occur:

These conditions can further affect your physical and mental development and function.

A physical therapist can help you increase your physical health and performance and help manage your condition.

Types Of Down Syndrome

There are three main types of Down syndrome, each with a slightly different genetic cause.

All of them differ in the way they impact your chromosomes, and the symptoms that occur as a result.


Mosaicism is the least common type of Down syndrome.

Mosaicism is a type of Down syndrome that occurs when you’re born with an extra chromosome in some of your cells, but not all of them.

This means that some of your cells contain 47 chromosomes, but others contain the typical 46 chromosomes.

This type generally has the least symptoms compared to the following two types.

Symptoms can include slurred speech, small ears, flattened head, and white spots on the iris of your eyes.


Translocation Down syndrome occurs when you only have an extra part of chromosome 21, not the entire chromosome.

It’s an incomplete extra chromosome 21 and can be attached to any one of your 46 chromosomes.

Usually this extra chromosome copy is attached to chromosome 14.

Ultimately, the severity of the symptoms depends on which particular chromosome this extra piece is attached to.

Trisomy 21

This type of Down syndrome occurs in the majority of Down syndrome cases.

Trisomy 21 occurs when you have a complete extra copy of chromosome 21 in each one of your cells.

This is the most common form of Down syndrome, and typically the one with the most severe symptoms.

Signs Of Down Syndrome

Symptoms of Down syndrome appear in utero.

This is because Down syndrome occurs due to a genetic issue or mutation during pregnancy.

Some physical characteristic signs of a baby born with Down syndrome include:

  • Noticeably small head and ears
  • A bulging tongue
  • Very flat facial features
  • Eyes with an upward slant
  • Height that is shorter in nature
  • A shorter neck with excess skin

It’s possible that some of the physical issues associated with Down syndrome can result in various forms of pain, such as neck pain.

These characteristics persist into adulthood and are often signs of the condition.

You might also have motor skills challenges and developmental disabilities if you have Down syndrome.

This also includes:

  • Impulsive behavior
  • Poor judgment
  • Slower learning capabilities
  • A short attention span

Other medical complications that often accompany Down syndrome, and can occur at any age, include:

Finally, if you have Down syndrome, you are also more prone to infections like respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, and skin infections.

How Can A Physical Therapist For Down Syndrome Help | Capitol Physical Therapy | Washington DC Physical Therapists

How Can A Physical Therapist For Down Syndrome Help?

There is no one size fits all physical therapy treatment plan for Down syndrome.

Your treatment may differ based on the type of Down syndrome you have, and the symptoms or other comorbid conditions you’re displaying.

There are a number of ways that your physical therapist can help you with Down syndrome.

Mainly, they’ll be a really important resource to help you:

Starting physical therapy as an adult with Down syndrome is a huge asset to your health and longevity.

The first thing your physical therapist will do is conduct a full evaluation.

This will include information about your birth, development, general health, and any concerns you might have for them.

This evaluation will allow your physical therapist to create a custom treatment plan for you to target the areas they need to improve.

They can also suggest modifications to your home and work environment to help you thrive and succeed independently.

It is important that you work on sticking to your treatment plan that is given by your physical therapist for your best chance at success.

People with Down syndrome today tend to live longer than they did in the past.

Due to this increase in the average life expectancy in people with Down syndrome, physical therapy for seniors is a great resource to help seniors with Down syndrome.

Your physical therapist will adjust their strategy as you age and address new issues that may arise.

They can suggest modifications to your home environment in order to help you maintain your independence and quality of life as long as possible.

This includes teaching you to effectively direct your caregivers during daily physical tasks if needed.

Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today

You can see the variety of benefits associated with physical therapy if you or a loved one has Down syndrome.

Like we said before, the best time to start physical therapy is now.

Capitol Physical Therapy has a variety of experienced professionals ready to support you as an adult living with Down syndrome.

Book your appointment with Capitol Physical Therapy today.

Capitol Physical Therapy
1331 H St NW #200,
Washington, DC 20005


9560 Pennsylvania Ave. # 202,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772


Capitol Physical Therapy offers orthopedic and other pain related solutions, with our versitile team of physical therapists in Washington, DC