Motor and Hand Function
The frequency of soft-tissue laxity and gross and fine motor dysfunction makes it a common finding in occupational and physical therapy evaluations in programs dealing with older adults and young children with Down syndrome. In children with Down syndrome, hypotonia, increased flexibility of the joints, decreased muscle strength, and the frequent occurrence of significant congenital heart disease all contribute to potential motor delays in infancy and early childhood (Zausmer & Shea, 1984). Carr (1975) showed a severe deceleration in the rate of mental and motor development during the first two years of life in these children. The most significant declines in development occurred in the first 10 months. Delays in motor development appeared to occur more rapidly than those of mental development (Carr, 1975). In the child with Down syndrome, the generalized low muscle tone that contributes to motor delays has also been correlated with delayed speech acquisition, delayed cognitive development, impaired stereognosis, slower reaction time, and decreased kinesthetic feedback (Harris, 1984).
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