Work Type



Fall 2023

Faculty Advisor

Julia Looper PT, PhD




Is Upright Exploratory Play Influenced by Partial Body Weight Support in Infants with Down Syndrome?

Sofia Hardin, SPT; Christa Lum, SPT

Mentor: Julia Looper, PT, PhD

Background: Children with Down syndrome (DS) typically present with delayed gross motor skills, which may negatively impact their development in other realms, such as cognition and language. The partial body-weight supported system (PBWSS) is a possible early intervention for infants with DS in physical therapy settings and in the community to facilitate motor development through exploratory play.

Purpose: To explore the effects of a PBWSS on upright play positions during exploratory play among infants with DS. Upright play positions include kneeling, squatting, standing, cruising, supported stepping, and walking.

Methods: (N=3). Researchers used a 9x9ft play environment that included the PBWSS and toys. Infants under the age of three attended nine one-hour sessions over the course of three weeks. Infants moved freely within the space and interacted with researchers and present family members. Researchers behavior-coded the first 30 minutes of play for the first and last session with the PBWSS for each infant. Gross motor behaviors were coded for specific motions during the first 2 seconds of every 6 second interval for the duration of the 30 minute play time, totaling to 300 observations.

Results: Observations of upright play increased in the last session compared to the first for all three infants, increasing from 33% to 40.67% for infant 1, 15.67% to 49.67% for infant 2 and 39.33% to 47.67% for infant 3.

Conclusion: The PBWSS seemed to influence upright play positions during exploratory play for infants with DS and is worth further exploration.


University of Puget Sound