About Me

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy

Welcome to my blog! My name is Geoff. I have always been a sporty kind of chap. I love to go long distance running and I also play football and rugby. One day after a long run, I had a terrible pain in my foot. I thought I had just been overdoing it a little bit, so I decided to rest up. A week later, it was no better. I was still in a lot of pain and had to drop out of a couple of football matches. My doctor sent me to see a podiatrist who examined my foot and explained I had damaged a ligament. The podiatrist helped me to get back to full health. I decided to start this blog to explain the importance of good foot care.

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy

2 Ways to Encourage Earlier Walking in a Child with Down Syndrome

by Samuel Snyder

Learning to walk is an important milestone in most children's lives. Non-disabled children generally learn to walk at around 13 months, give or take a few months. However, children with Down syndrome often don't walk until around 25 months, an entire year later than other children.

While later walking is typical for a child with Down syndrome, it's not necessarily ideal. Research indicates that early mobility can have a multitude of benefits for toddlers. Research shows that being upright and mobile can improve hip structure and alignment, decrease pain and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. It can also have positive effects on other aspects of a child's health aside from those related to walking, such as improved circulation, decreased constipation, and accelerated learning and development.  

There are several factors affecting the mobility of a child with Down syndrome, but many of them can be addressed. In doing so, it's possible to encourage your child to walk earlier than the statistics say they should.

Here are 2 ways to encourage early mobility in a child with Down syndrome.

Treadmill Training

One common way to improve the mobility of a child with Down syndrome is to address their gait. Gait -- the way in which someone walks -- is naturally different in a child with Down syndrome than it is in unimpaired children. Children with Down syndrome suffer from loose ligaments, decreased muscle tone, and weak legs, which can lead to problems with hip, knee, and foot posture. This causes these children to walk with an inefficient (and later painful) gait pattern, often with their feet apart and turned out. 

One method of improving gait is treadmill training. While the idea of a toddler on a treadmill may sound strange or extreme, it's actually a scientifically-backed way to encourage early mobility. This method involves holding your little one over a slow treadmill for 8 minutes a day, 5 days per week. As your child's feet are moved back by the treadmill, they should intuitively move it forward. Practising this pattern at a young age (it can be started when a child can sit for 30 seconds or more unaided) improves gait and can advance the rate at which the child begins to walk by several months. 

Podiatrist Intervention

While improving gait with treadmill training is a great way to encourage early mobility, it's not ideal for every family given that suitable treadmills can be expensive and take up space in the home. Thankfully, there are other ways to speed up the walking process in your child.

Aside from gait, one of the other main problems that will slow down the mobility of a child with Down syndrome is the shape of their feet. Down syndrome often causes flat feet, short lower extremities, and other foot problems that can lead to heel pain, arch pain and bunions. All of these can make it harder for a child walk. 

One of the best ways to deal with this is to take your child to see a podiatrist. A podiatrist will be able to recommend a variety of treatment options to negate the effects of problems like flat feet, such as fittings for special shoes or insoles that will support your child's foot, and exercises to improve the muscle and tissue function. If foot problems persist as your child ages, a foot surgeon can advise you on appropriate surgical intervention. By minimising the foot problems caused by Down syndrome, you can make walking a more comfortable and enjoyable activity for your child, encouraging their progress.