Free Download: Procedures To Use The Treadmill Training In Infants With Down Syndrome

We are back to physical therapy today and on the treadmill. They are trying to get Noah to be on there for 8 minutes each day we that he has physical therapy (which at this point is twice a week.)

As Rick mentioned before, Dr. Ulrich is doing fantastic research to help children born with Down syndrome grow and develop.  His idea is that the sooner children walk and explore their environment the better it is for their development as a whole. I have heard frequently;

“Once my child started walking their speech improved significantly.”

I am not trying to rush Noah, I know he will walk when he is ready, but I love putting evidence-based medicine into action. I love that someone cares enough about hypotonia, and in turn my child, to be doing this research.  I’m just starting to learn about all that is out there, and I can’t wait to share what I discover.

boy down syndrome learning walk treadmill

One small step at a time, Noah's learning to walk!

A Free Downloadable Treadmill Training Protocol For You.

Dr. Ulrich was gracious enough to share his protocol with us for starting treadmill training so that we could share it with all of you. Granted you do need treadmill access and a bench to do this.  We have embedded the treadmill protocol below, and you should also be able to download, and print as well.  You are welcome to give this protocol to your child’s physical therapist if they aren’t already aware about Treadmill Training.

(As always, please check with your child’s pediatrician and/or physical therapist before using any of the suggestions on our website.)

Procedures To Use The Treadmill Training In Infants With Down Syndrome

Our physical therapist uses a fancy harness to help with Noah’s training the majority of the time. It’s hard work to hold a baby over a treadmill!  It gives her more freedom to work on his legs if needed.  I think it is pretty funny as he looks like he has jumped out of an airplane and is using a parachute. 🙂

treadmill thearpy down syndrome walking

"Time to fly! Umm...I mean learn to walk." - Noah

Noah is highly fascinated by the contraption and has never seemed to mind hanging out in it one bit.  In fact, I am fairly certain he thinks it is awesome to lift his legs up and just hang there, and who wouldn’t do that if they were able to be suspended in the air?

Is anyone thinking about or doing treadmill training?  How do you feel it is going if you are?

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  1. Matai's Mum! says

    This is awesome. This kind of help is so thoughtful and useful for those of us many miles away and I really really appreciate it. I would also really appreciate it if you would pass on our thanks to Dr. Ulrich as well.
    You guys are doing an amazing job! 🙂

  2. Scott and Vanessa says

    Hmmm, I couldn’t download it. I remember when Noah was 8 months old and just starting. Enzo is 8 months now and I’d like to try it out. Do you have a link to the protocol?

  3. Kimberly Hutchinson says

    My husband and I are both physical therapists and were recently blessed by the arrival of our beautiful son with DS. This is great information for parents on the treatment techniques that are out there. I am also excited about our journey and am striving to learn more in my own profession to give our son the best opportunities possible (:

    • Wow, what a lucky little boy! I can’t wait to follow your story. You guys should make a blog! 🙂

      Congrats on your son by the way, what’s his name?

      We have a new parent guide that has a lot of great info in case you haven’t seen it —->

      Also feel free to post a picture of your son on our Facebook page, we’d love to see him! 🙂

      • Kimberly Hutchinson says

        Michael Ryan and he is 11 weeks old. We have been posting lots of pics on the FB page of him and his big brother Gabriel. He had surgery for duodenal Atresia and is doing great. He has no feeding problems which can occur with that condition. We just love him to pieces! Thanks for all the education and awareness you are providing. I have learned so much already and am excited about Michael’s future 🙂

  4. I mentioned this to our PT a few weeks ago, and she is under the impression that a special treadmill is required for this – one that can go slow enough, and is equipped with the harness, etc. She said she is researching to find out if anyone in our area has one available, or what the pricing would be to get one. Thanks for posting the protocol – I’ll be passing this along!

    • @Karli,

      Nope, no special treadmill needed…and congrats to you guys for being so proactive!

      Please keep us posted on what your PT says when she reads this. Keep rocking, and please let us know if there’s anyway we can support you guys.

    • Hello,

      To have a specific treadmill made, it is approx $2500. However, if you use an adult treadmill that goes slow enough (1 mph or less) and a bench, you should be able to carry out the intervention. With the bench, you can support the child under their arms with your elbows resting on your knees. Please see the mentioned articles for photographs. With this method, you will not need a harness.


      • Thanks for chiming in on this. I’ve heard of some parents picking up used ones at garage sells, craigslist, etc. In fact I think Dr. Ulrich mentioned this as a good place to find a treadmill once.

  5. That was very cool. Love the sneakers! I liked that Noah seemed to be enjoying this and it wasn’t onerous for him.

    • Thanks! He doesn’t like to keep the sneakers on very often. He has to wear them for the treadmill, but other than that he pulls them off as quick as we can put them on him.


  6. Thanks for this! I’ve printed it off, and will be sending it (as well as the link to the study) to our PT, and our Developmental Therapist, as well. Interesting stuff!

  7. I think its so exciting to see, hear, read all the new things that are out there now to help ourkids with DS to learn faster, better, easier!! My son is 16 now and there are so many things out there that we didn’t have or know back then. It’s just very exciting to me!! If we knew about the treadmill training back then Zach may have walked earlier than he did. I say try anything that’s put in front of you because you never know if its going to be THAT thing that works!! Go for it Noah!! You have amazing parents and I think you will do great things because of them!!

  8. This is very interesting! I have not seen this before…though I’m an OT, not a PT.

    Have you tried the Masgutova Method?

    My son suffered a major stroke and this method has been part of the reason he is doing so well…reaching all milestones and some ahead!

    I’m rooting for your son. He is absolutely adorable!

  9. Jennifer Munson says

    LOVE this, but couldn’t download the information! Could you post a link when you get a chance? Thank you, and (((hugs))) to Noah!

    • Sure. But you should be able to click on the square box at the top right of the embedded document and download it.

      Let me know if works, I tried it and it worked.

      Glad you found it useful.

  10. Hummm Interesting! I haven’t thought about this for Miss T yet, but only because she has just conqured sitting. I know Noah is 1 month younger so when did you guys start it with him???


    • We started when Noah was around 8 months old maybe? I don’t remember exactly. If you look back (or type in the search box on the right side of this page) you should find a post on the first time he started the treadmill.

      Let us know if you guys have any questions about it. We have lots more info on this.

  11. I actually started Alyson on this when I first saw it on your blog, but had to stop when she was getting sick (2 hospital stays and 3 colds over 3 months). I have to say for the short period of time that we were on (about a couple of weeks) we got amazing results. She was stepping/walking with assistance even though she hasn’t mastered standing or crawling. I can’t wait to get her back on it.

    @Rachel, this is the perfect time to start for Miss T. According to the paper, you can’t start it until the child has learned to sit independently for (I believe) 5 minutes.

  12. Warren's mom says

    I wish this had been around when Warren was learning to walk! It is really neat to see how therapies are changing or becoming available as times change. 🙂

  13. So I talked to the PT about it, we tried it out, and he did great! Turns out they have the same setup as y’all do, with the harness. I guess we could get to that when he can last a little longer. Today I took James over to our church workout room, and the treadmill there will work out just fine! He did really well…and I am going to get a workout holding him up there! We live in the parsonage right across the street, so it’s going to be no big deal for me to walk over there for a few minutes a day to help give James his workout. Thanks so much for making information like this available. (And yes, we’ll get a video of it sometime and put it on our blog, Facebook, anywhere someone will watch it.) 🙂

    • @Lydia

      YAHHH!!! You guys are rocking. Thanks for coming back and telling us how it worked. You guys are doing such a great job. It blesses us to hear about it so thanks for sharing.

      And I think there are lots of people who would like to see the awesome things you guys are doing. So feel free to post videos, pictures, or anything else on our Facebook wall anytime you want! You have an open invite.

      Keep rocking!

  14. Where was this when Josh was learning, but then again I don’t think he would have needed it considering he was mastering it very well. Although he still likes to bear walk sometimes and it can be a pain in the rear, oh well. And Josh doesn’t like to keep his shoes on for very long either because as soon as he is home from school he’ll sit down and give me the sign for shoes and off and please, so he can be very demanding sometimes but I love him just as he is. So happy that I have found your blog

  15. Max is only 7 weeks old, but our physician, at a noted down syndrome specialty clinic, seems to think the treadmill stuff is mostly marketing. I usually trust him. Can you point me to some peer reviewed research on treadmill training?



    • I would have to disagree with your doctor based on the research that I have read 🙂 if you look at our other posts about treadmill stuff we link to the articles which are in publications like Pediatrics (put out by the American academy of pediatrics). You can also search scholar google for Dr Dale Ulrich and the majority are free articles. If you need more help finding the articles let me know and I will email them 🙂 congrats on your baby!!

      • We also have new research to suggest that offering treadmill training can increase the child’s level of high intensity physical activity. Please see Meghann Lloyd & Dale Ulrich.

        Treadmill training can be a remarkable experience for the parent and child beyond improving the onset of independent walking.


  16. I am a pediatric PT. I attended a course by Patricia Winders (author of “Gross Motor Skills in Children with Down Syndrom”). Her research suggested that frequency of services for PT did NOT change the rate of progress for children iwth Down Syndrome and that children with DS fell into one of 4 “tracks” regarding rate of progress/approximate age of meeting key motor milestones. I have used treadmill training (with harness) for other children/diagnoses; I apologieze that I have not had time to research Dr. Ulrich’s research specifically. Does he have evidence that use of the treadmill specifically helps increase the rate at which the children with DS acquire independent walking? I certainly don’t mean to sound “negative”; it is just not what I have read previously about DS specifically, and where I live the early intervention programs are moving toward a “primary provider” model and coaching model, with claims that goals are met more effectively with this than with traditional PT/OT/speech 1 to 2 times per week.

    • If you look at our prior post we talk about the study that Ulrich did. It does increase independent walking from 23 months to 19. Which may not seem like a lot but really is. What are the 4 tracks? I absolutely love Patricia and her information. Her book is awesome!

  17. Hello,

    I’m glad to see Noah working on treadmill training. Just a thought, try having him train with only socks on rather than shoes, that way we can gather sensory feedback from his feet.

    Just a thought!

    Janet Hauck

  18. Meh! Don’t worry about the size of clothes thing… My three older girls are without the T21 genes and they were ALL behind by at least six months to a year at all times 🙂 (unless for length, then look out!) they just got there daddy’s genes and are tall and skinny. It will be interesting to see how Karis (our T21 gened baby) moves along… so far, same path as her sisters just not as long/tall 🙂

  19. Can you post a link to the protocol? The embedded info seems to be broken. Love your blog 🙂

  20. Tiff Marcotte says

    Hi! Could you email me this protocol? I can’t download it. Thank you!

  21. It appears that the link to the protocol is no longer working. Could you try to reupload the document or send it to me? I’m very interested in looking at the protocol more. Thank you!

    P.S. I just recommended your blog to my brother, whose family was just blessed with a baby with Down Syndrome.

  22. Bethany Ray says

    I am an OT but provide early intervention services to kids with Down Syndrome using a primary provider model in Nebraska. Thus I am often caring out PT services as well. I also could not get the embedded document to open but would LOVE to share it with families. Could you email it to me please?
    Thanks so much!

  23. i have recently found your website and it is very informative — thank you for sharing your experiences and knowledge to us. Can you please help me with the download thing? i cannot find the link 🙁
    Thank you.

  24. You are simply doing superb job.

    Can you please let know from where this treadmill can be procured. I need the same for my son.

    Thanks, Vishal

  25. We have experience with the harness walker Upsee by Firefly. But our son has other illness, there is the hypotonia symptom too. We´ve used it intensively for 9 months since he was 4 years old. His sitting position and fine motoring was improving fast. He got some habits from the Upsee. For example leaning against my leg by his back. I thing he is using his own legs and feet for “firing” (with my help) more than before. Attention, walking with Upsee is very exhaustive, mainly for parent!

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