Comparison of different therapy approaches in children with Down syndrome

Pediatr Int. 2003 Feb;45(1):68-73. doi: 10.1046/j.1442-200x.2003.01670.x.


Background: Children with Down syndrome have sensory integrative dysfunction as a result of limited sensory experience from lack of normal motor control. The aim of the present study was to compare the effects of sensory integrative therapy alone, vestibular stimulation in addition to sensory integrative therapy and neurodevelopmental therapy, on children with Down syndrome.

Methods: The present study was carried out at the Occupational Therapy Unit, School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation of Hacettepe University. Forty-five children who were diagnosed as having Down syndrome by the Departments of Paediatric Neurology and Medical Genetics at Hacettepe University were assessed and randomly divided into three groups. Sensory integrative therapy was given to the first group (n=15), vestibular stimulation in addition sensory integrative therapy was given to the second group (n=15) and neurodevelopmental therapy was given to the third group (n=15). All children were evaluated with Ayres Southern California Sensory Integration Test, Pivot Prone Test, Gravitational Insecurity Test and Pegboard Test. The hypotonicity of extensor muscles, joint stability, automatic movement reactions and locomotor skills were tested. Treatment programs were 1.5 h per session, 3 days per week for 3 months.

Results: When these groups were compared, statistically significant differences were found in subjects' performance of balance on right foot-eyes open, pivot prone position-quality score and locomotor skills-front tests (P<0.05). There were no significant differences in the other tests (P>0.05).

Conclusions: The results of the present study showed that sensory integration, vestibular stimulation and neurodevelopmental therapy were effective in children with Down syndrome. It was concluded that when designing rehabilitation programs for children with Down syndrome, all treatment methods should be applied in combination, and should support each other according to the individual needs of the child.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Down Syndrome / rehabilitation
  • Down Syndrome / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Occupational Therapy*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome