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Quality Wearable Therapy Products - Practice Perfect!

The Bamboo Brace for Children with Down Syndrome

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Much of our information and promotional material for The Bamboo Brace lists that it works well for children with Down Syndrome. Although this is very true and I have used it personally with great success, I thought I should clarify, so that families and therapists will have a better idea which ages and skill levels of children with Down Syndrome respond best to its use.

I am mostly talking about infants, toddlers and smaller children under two years of age who we are trying to help learn how to walk. Most of these kids will of course have lower muscle tone as is typical for Down Syndrome, however they might also have a sensitivity to weight bearing through their hands and do not tolerate the loading of the joints of their arms as is necessary to learn how to crawl, sit themselves up, kneel and pull to standing.

Many of the children also have arm weakness that does not allow them to sustain positions like 4-point (hands & knees) without collapsing. These children have a difficult time pushing themselves up from the floor and transitioning into 4-point, sitting, kneeling and pulling to standing. The weakness in my experience is usually no more complicated than not having done enough repetitions in each of the positions to build strength, this is where The Bamboo Brace is extremely helpful.

Using most likely the infant/toddler size or the Preschool size if the children are more near two years, I select one of the more flexible stays (1,2,3) that give just enough resistance so that the child’s elbow won’t collapse in weight bearing positions and place one Bamboo Braces on each elbow.

The flexibility of the brace is very important for a few of reasons. First, we want it flexible enough so that the children can build themselves up from the floor to 4-point, sitting and kneeling without having the brace too stiff and rigid to do so. Secondly, the flexible nature of the brace is what allows the children to gain strength by allowing the elbow to bend 20-30 degrees repeatedly in weight bearing positions and with each repetition the child continues to gain strength, until they no longer need to wear the brace. Lastly, the flexible and supportive nature of The Bamboo Brace gives both parents and therapists an extra set of hands so that you can assist the children around their core or legs without always having to support the elbows to keep them from collapsing.

In years past I would have spent many months with the children trying to gain the necessary strength in weight bearing positions so that they can build themselves up from the floor to standing. Once I began using the early Bamboo Brace prototypes to supplement my treatments, I began to realize strength gains much more rapidly in children with Down Syndrome. I credit this to nothing more fancy than just helping the children to perform more repetitions against gravity within each treatment session than before I dynamically braced the elbow.

Many younger children with Down Syndrome described above might only need to use The Bamboo Brace for a few weeks or a few months depending on individual differences to gain the necessary independence to get up onto their feet.

Occasionally we have used The Bamboo Brace in older children with Down Syndrome who are “mouthing” incessantly with their hands, but this is not as common it seems as with some other diagnoses such as Rett Syndrome and Autism. Nonetheless when using it for this purpose I recommend keeping The Bamboo Brace as flexible as possible so the children can continue to use their hands and arms as much as possible without quite being able to get them to mouth.