The role of occupational therapy in children with Down’s syndrome

Authors: Lăcrămioara Alexandra Apetrei 1, László Irsay 2, Monica Borda 2, Rodica Ungur 2, Ioan Onac 2, Viorela Ciortea 2


  1 “Iuliu Haţieganu” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

2 Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, “Iuliu Haţieganu” University of Medicine  and

Pharmacy, Cluj-Napoca, Clinical Rehabilitation Hospital, Cluj-Napoca, Romania


Background. The role of occupational therapy in the functional development and social reintegration of children with Down’s syndrome.

Aims. The improvement of fine motor and ADL skills, social and communication skills, participation in group games and cooperation skills.

Methods. The present paper is a primary study based on case series, conducted on children with Down’s syndrome in Cluj- Napoca in their home environment. The research involved the application of an occupational therapy program to a group of 5 children with Down’s syndrome, consisting of 2 boys and 3 girls, aged 5 to 11, over a period of 6 weeks. The program consisted of 2 sessions per week, each with a duration of 50 minutes. Progress was quantified using data collected through assessment scales, as follows: the Waisman Activities of Daily Living (W-ADL) scale, the finger dexterity test (FDT), the hand dexterity test (HDT) and Ozeretski’s dynamic coordination of hands test (DCHT). The tests were performed on days 1 and 42 of treatment.

Results. Specificity was calculated by comparing the results obtained upon conducting the study on the same group of subjects at those points during treatment using the T-Paired Two Sample for Means test. The significance levels were measured at 95% for p<0.05 and 99% for p<0.01. Upon performing the W-ADL, FDT, HDT and DCHT tests, the following results were obtained: W-ADL – p=0.03, p<0.05; FDT – left hand: p=0.01, right hand: p=0.006, p<0.05; HDT – p=0.01, p<0.05; DCHT – left hand: p=0.006, right hand: p=0.003, p<0.01;

Conclusions. Upon conducting the research, the main occupational therapy program objectives were achieved. Also, impor­tant considerations were formulated regarding the improvement of ADL performance by means of increased levels of independ­ence, an improved quality of life and improved sensory and fine motor skills as a result of symptom improvement.

Keywords: Down’s syndrome, occupational therapy, rehabilitation medicine

The role of occupational therapy in children with Down’s syndrome