Children and adults with Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) experience a number of neurological and physical problems. While there is no cure for this rare syndrome, which seems to be closely related to autism spectrum disorder, children with Fragile X Syndrome can benefit from physical therapy. Here is some information that parents of children with Fragile X should know about physical therapy.
What is Fragile X?
Fragile X Syndrome is a genetic disorder associated with the FMR1 gene. This gene makes a particular protein that is vital for normal brain development in children. In patients with FXS, the FMR1 gene either makes none of this protein, or doesn’t make a sufficient amount of the protein for normal brain development. FXS is more prevalent in boys than in girls, and boys tend to suffer more extreme symptoms from the disorder.
Symptoms of Fragile X Syndrome
Developmental delays, learning disabilities, and social and behavioral problems are all possible indicators that a child may have Fragile X Syndrome. Symptoms may include:
- Developmental delays characterized by an inability to walk, talk or sit up at the same age as other young children
- Learning disabilities such as difficulty in learning new things that other children the same age are able to grasp quickly
- Social and behavior issues that may include anxiousness, a lack of attention span, failure to make eye contact, an overactive personality and sleep disorders
As children with Fragile X Syndrome age, they may appear to be extremely skinny due to lack of muscle tone. They also develop balance and gait issues as they get older, making them more prone to falling down and injuring themselves. While these are symptoms that possibly indicate Fragile X Syndrome, the syndrome can only be diagnosed through a genetic blood test.
How Physical Therapy Can Help with Fragile X
Research published in the Journal of Lifestyle Medicine has shown that physical therapy and exercise can provide definite benefits to children with Fragile X Syndrome. Weight-bearing exercise breaks down muscle cells, which then requires protein synthesis to rebuild new muscles cells. That protein synthesis in turn causes increased neurotransmitter development and additional neurotransmitter activity. It also helps Fragile X Syndrome patients with sleep disorders, because the body literally needs to go to sleep to “heal” from exercise.
In other words: Physical exercise reduces the behavioral symptoms associated with Fragile X and other disorders on the autism spectrum.
In addition to neurological benefits, the regular routine of physical therapy can also help with the physical symptoms of Fragile X Syndrome. A physical therapist can help a child with balance and gait disorders to find a better sense of balance, making them less prone to falling accidents as they get older. Stronger muscle tone helps to improve posture issues that develop in conjunction with Fragile X Syndrome. While there is no cure for Fragile X Syndrome, working with a physical therapist can help to alleviate or reduce many of the symptoms that impact the child and their family.
We Are Here for You
Jeevam Therapy in Edison and Paramus, NJ specializes in working with children with special needs, including those with Fragile X Syndrome. If your child has been diagnosed with Fragile X or displays symptoms of the disorder, click here to schedule an appointment.