Children with down syndrome improved in motor functioning and muscle tone following massage therapy

Maria Hernandez-Reif, Tiffany Field, Shay Largie, Dana Mora, Joan Bornstein, Ronnie Waldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Twenty-one moderate to high functioning young children (mean age, two years) with Down syndrome receiving early intervention (physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy) were randomly assigned to additionally receive two 0.5-hour massage therapy or reading sessions (control group) per week for two months. On the first and last day of the study, the children's functioning levels were assessed using the Developmental Programming for Infants and Young Children scale, and muscle tone was assessed using a new preliminary scale (the Arms, Legs and Trunk Muscle Tone Score). Children in the massage therapy group revealed greater gains in fine and gross motor functioning and less severe limb hypotonicity when compared with the children in the reading/control group. These findings suggest that the addition of massage therapy to an early intervention program may enhance motor functioning and increase muscle tone for children with Down syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-410
Number of pages16
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2006


  • Down syndrome
  • Early intervention
  • Fine motor
  • Gross motor
  • Hypotonic
  • Massage therapy
  • Motor functioning
  • Muscle tone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology


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