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One Step at a Time – How Can I Help My Child with Down Syndrome Stand and 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?

Individuals with Down Syndrome exhibit many characteristics which can affect their ability to crawl, sit and walk. When children reach their motor milestones at a later date, this may impact their ability to interact and socialize with the environment and the people around them. As a parent, you want to do everything you can to optimize their growth and development, while letting them learn to explore on their own. Some of the characteristics that these children may possess include: ligament laxity, muscle hypotonia, lack of postural stability and joint hyper mobility. 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 and walk?

Orthotic devices help give these children the support they require to stand for the first time. Depending on the amount of support they require or the amount of hypotonia, this will determine the exact orthotic intervention whether it be foot orthoses or supramalleolar orthoses (SMO). Foot orthoses help distribute the plantar pressures appropriately, support the arch and provide a solid base of support. Supramalleolar orthoses come up above the ankle bone and provide medial lateral support of the ankle, preventing increased calcaneal valgus and pronation. By keeping the feet aligned and directly under the child, we are giving them the support they need to remain standing.

Both of these device types give children with Down Syndrome the support and foundation they need to take those first steps. This will in turn help them further explore their environment and surroundings.

Dawn MacArthur Turner MSc CO c

Custom Orthotics of London


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