Cervical instability and Down syndrome: Review of the literature and implications for physical therapists

C. G. Gajdosik, S. Ostertag

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The purpose of this review is to inform pediatric physical therapists about the issues of atlantoaxial (AA) instability in individuals with Down syndrome (DS). Osseus anomalies, ligamentous laxity, trauma (including surgical procedures), and upper respiratory infections are thought to contribute to AA instability. When this instability becomes symptomatic, indicating spinal cord impingement, disabling neurologic sequelae and possible death can occur. Predictive risk factors for symptomatic instability have not been identified clearly. Thus, identification of the signs and symptoms of spinal impingement are very important. Physical therapists can play a valuable role in the early identification of spinal cord impingement by performing regular neurological examinations and watching for unexplained loss of function. Therapists also should avoid movements or exercises that put undue stress on the cervical spine. Finally, physical therapists can educate parents of children with DS about the signs and symptoms of spinal cord impingement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-36
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Physical Therapy
Volume8
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996

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