Physical Therapy Archives - West Texas Rehab

Down Syndrome Explained: Rocking an Extra Chromosome

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in extra genetic material from chromosome 21. Instead of the typical 46 chromosomes, people with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes. Having an extra chromosome changes brain and body development resulting in physical and cognitive differences. 

There are three different types of Down syndrome

  1. Trisomy 21 is the most common and accounts for 95% of the cases. It is caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21. 
  2. Mosaic is when there is a mixture of cells with the normal 46 chromosomes and those with 47 that have an extra chromosome 21. 
  3. Translocation is when there are the normal 46 chromosomes but then an extra copy of chromosome 21 attaches to another chromosome; usually chromosome 14.


Common characteristics: 

While characteristics vary from person to person, these are some of the most common:

Physical Features Cognitive/Social Features Developmental Delays
  • A flattened face, especially the bridge of the nose
  • Almond-shaped eyes that slant up
  • A short neck, fingers, and toes
  • Small ears
  • Short attention span
  • Poor judgment
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Slower learning
  • Delayed language and speech development
  • Gross motor skills
  • Fine motor skills
  • Speech and language skills

Myths vs. Facts

Myths  Facts 
Down syndrome is a rare disorder. 

Most children with Down syndrome are born to older parents.

All children with Down syndrome have a severe cognitive disability.

People with Down syndrome cannot be active members of society.

It is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. Approximately 1 out of 772 babies in the United States are born with Down syndrome.

More children with Down syndrome are born to parents younger than 35 but the likelihood of having a baby with Down syndrome increases with age. 

Most people with Down syndrome have a mild to moderate cognitive or intellectual disability.

People with Down syndrome participate in a wide range of activities in their communities.  


What can I do to help? 

Talk to your child’s pediatrician about services, equipment, and community resources in your area for support as they learn new skills.  Examples that may be appropriate:


Healthcare Equipment/Devices Community Resources
  • Medical Specialists
    • Pediatrics, Orthopedics, Neurology, Genetics, and others as appropriate
  • ECI (Early Childhood Intervention, 0-3 years)
  • Pediatric Outpatient 
    • Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy
  • AAC (Augmented/Alternative Communication)
  • DME (Durable Medical Equipment)
    • Orthotics
    • Standing frame
    • Gait trainer
    • Walker 
  • Daycare settings for children with special needs
  • School-based therapy and accommodations
  • Adaptive Sports (Challenger League, etc.)
  • Upside Down Club of Abilene (or local chapter in your area)
    • Annual Buddy Walk event


Organizations and Websites that offer Support 

This website has resources and programs; education for parents as educators; supports for advocacy; an annual convention; and Down syndrome news stories and events. Each state also has various links to help at the state level. 

This website has resources and support by age and by topic. It also has help with advocacy and policy. 

This website offers resources, programs, research, and events specific to individuals with mosaic Down syndrome

This website offers resources and support, events, and even a shop for Down syndrome awareness 

This website has programs and resources for people with down syndrome and their families. These resources/programs include apps, a magazine, workshops, and podcasts. These resources are also available in Spanish. 

This website was created to help people with intellectual disabilities with advocacy and policy and helps to connect families with local agencies that can help with these areas. 

This website offers information about research and medical care; offers programs and events; advocacy; and news about people with Down syndrome. The foundation helps to fund the  Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome which is committed to research and medical care for people with Down syndrome. 

This website offers resources, events, and personal stories for families in the Big Country area.

To learn more about all of the services we provide, click here.

October is Physical Therapy Month

October is physical therapy month and at WTRC, we take our commitment to providing excellent care to our patients very seriously. We also are very proud of the fact that each therapist will see one patient at a time instead of dividing our attention between multiple patients at once. We believe that our patient’s recovery is key and we have better outcomes due to being able to spend quality time with each one of our patients. Our patients will be seen and treated 1 on 1 by a licensed, certified therapist every visit, for the entirety of the visit! – Abilene Adult Physical Therapy Department

SPINAL MANIPULATION: Spinal manipulation is a very effective treatment for lower back pain, we have several physical therapists who are trained in manipulation therapy!

CUPPING: WTRC has many instruments & techniques to offer for treatment of soft tissue disorders. Our therapists are trained in Myofascial DecompressionTM. Myofascial DecompressionTM is a technique that lifts the layers of tissue as opposed to other techniques that compress tissue. Our therapists utilize this technique along with stretching and exercise to optimize function and mobility.

TMJ/TMD: Temporomandibular joint disorder is a common condition that limits the function of the jaw. It currently affects more than 10 million people in the United States consisting of difficulty with chewing and limited jaw opening. TMJ disorders range from poor posture, clenching, lock jaw, stress, and malalignment in the teeth. Our physical therapists are trained to treat your TMJ disorders to allow you to talk, eat, brush your teeth, etc…without further limitation!

TRX: Our therapists are trained in TRXⓇ suspension training. This device is safe and effective in treating many musculoskeletal injuries or disabilities for all ages. Suspension training allows us to deload the body without heavy resistance training and use body weight training to isolate specific muscle groups to prevent compensatory movement patterns. 

CONCUSSIONS: Concussions can result in dizziness, nausea, imbalance, light sensitivity, and vision disturbances, among other complications. If you’ve had a concussion from a fall or injury, come see one of our certified vestibular therapists to reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life. 

DYNAVISION: Do you want to improve your hand-eye coordination, reaction time, balance, or cognitive performance? Come see the professionals at West Texas Rehab Center for training using the state of the art device, Dynavision. This tool will challenge you in more ways than one to improve your visual and motor reaction time. 

VERTIGO: Have you ever experienced vertigo or inner ear problems? Consider physical therapy treatment with our certified vestibular therapists. You will have a very thorough evaluation with state of the art equipment to get to the root of your problems.

Is your world spinning? Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a common cause of spinning dizziness that can be treated within a few short sessions (sometimes even 1 or 2 times!).

DIZZINESS: ISEN video goggles are specialized pieces of equipment used to provide more accurate results during vestibular assessments. Our vestibular certified therapists can help to determine the cause of your dizziness by using these goggles during your evaluation and treatments. 

DRIVER SCREENINGS: Returning to driving can be scary after an injury or change in health status. Our physical therapists can perform for a comprehensive driving evaluation to assess any cognitive or physical limitations related to operating a motor vehicle. We want you to feel confident when it comes to the safety of you and those around you on the road. 

ZERO G GAIT & BALANCE SYSTEM: Looking to improve your walking ability? Our state of the art Zero G can help by eliminating falls and reducing the load on your legs & spine while practicing safe walking to improve your independence!

BLOOD FLOW RESTRICTION: Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) is a technique that increases strength without applying a heavy load to a joint or muscle. At WTRC, we can use BFR to help you regain your strength even before you can put all of your weight on your leg or while you have lifting restrictions. This helps you return to your old self even faster.

Recovering from an ACL tear? Let us use Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) to get that quad strength back even in the early stages of your recovery and reduce your risk of future injury!

NECK PAIN: Do you struggle with tension and pain in your neck and feel you have tried everything? Have you heard about dry needling? Come to WTRC for an evaluation by a licensed physical therapist and see if dry needling is appropriate for you.

DRY NEEDLING: WTRC has skilled physical therapists with a doctorate level degree and several are certified dry needling providers. This is just one of many skills they have to offer. Dry needling involves a technique in which a small needle is inserted into the skin and targets trigger points in a muscle that are determined to be problematic by the physical therapist. This technique allows the muscle to relax and improves circulation to the tissue promoting healing of the tissue itself & decreasing pain.

Lymphedema Treatment Act passed by Congress in 2023 goes into effect January 1, 2024


Contact: Heather Ferguson



Health Provision Passed by Congress will Help Millions Who Suffer From this Under-Recognized Chronic Disease: Cancer survivors and others with lymphedema applaud inclusion of the Lymphedema Treatment Act in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023

For 12 years, the all-volunteer Lymphedema Advocacy Group led a grassroots campaign to close the unintended gap in Medicare coverage that prevented the program from covering prescribed medical compression garments that are the cornerstone of treatment for lymphedema.

“My son who was born with lymphedema was prescribed his first compression garment when he was seven months old,” said Heather Ferguson, the Founder and Executive Director of the group. “Our insurance company denied it because they aligned their coverage with Medicare.”

An estimated 3-5 million Americans suffer from lymphedema, a disease that causes painful and potentially life-threatening buildup of lymphatic fluid in the body. About two-thirds of patients acquire the condition due to damage done to their lymphatic system during cancer treatment, but there are also many other causes of lymphedema, including congenital malformations.

During each of the last three Congresses the Lymphedema Treatment Act had tremendous bipartisan support, with over 400 House and Senate cosponsors. As Congress concluded their work in 2022 the bill was included in the year-end omnibus spending package, creating a new Medicare Part B benefit category for lymphedema compression supplies.

“I am proud that the Lymphedema Treatment Act, which I have worked on for many years, was included in this package. Lymphedema is not a choice. Access to care should not be either,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), who sponsored the bill in the House.

“Lymphedema patients have been denied this coverage for far too long. After battling cancer, survivors can be met with this equally debilitating diagnosis, but with far fewer resources in place to assist them,” said Congressman Buddy Carter (R-GA-1), who co-led the House bill. “As a pharmacist and a child of a cancer survivor, I’ve seen the pain that lymphedema can cause. To those patients – help is on the way.”

“Lymphedema affects more than 8,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Washington state and millions of Americans. By updating Medicare, we’re reflecting necessary and effective treatments for this condition,” said Senator Cantwell (D-WA), who sponsored the bill in the Senate. “This new law is a commonsense approach to improving care for Medicare beneficiaries living with lymphedema while reducing costly hospitalizations.”

The Senate bill was co-led by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). According to multiple studies and real-world data, the use of medical compression garments has been proven to significantly reduce lymphedema-related infections and other complications, and an independent analysis by Avalere concluded that improved access to these doctor prescribed supplies would save Medicare hundreds of millions of dollars annually through avoided hospitalizations.

“As an SSDI and Medicare beneficiary I have experienced more frequent infections since being on Medicare and not having coverage for my compression garments,” said Sarah Bramblette, Board Chair of the Lymphedema Advocacy Group. “Being able to better manage this chronic disease will greatly improve my health and quality of life.”

Patient advocates and stakeholder groups will now work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services as they implement the new coverage, which will go into effect January 1, 2024. The Lymphedema Advocacy Group plans to celebrate passage of the bill and announce next steps at an upcoming event in Washington, DC, which may occur in March, during Lymphedema Awareness Month. Advocates interested in more information can go to

May is Stroke Awareness Month

May is Stroke Awareness Month, a time dedicated to increasing awareness about stroke, its causes, and its impact on individuals and families. Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide, and it is important to understand its warning signs and risk factors.

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted, either due to a clot blocking a blood vessel (ischemic stroke) or due to bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). When the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen, brain cells start to die within minutes. This can lead to permanent brain damage, disability, or even death.

According to the American Stroke Association, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds, and someone dies from a stroke every four minutes. In addition, stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability, with more than 6.5 million stroke survivors currently living in the U.S.

While stroke can affect anyone, certain risk factors increase the likelihood of having a stroke. These include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and a family history of stroke. People who have had a previous stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA, or “mini-stroke”) are also at higher risk.

Recognizing the warning signs of stroke is crucial for getting prompt medical attention and preventing long-term damage. The acronym “FAST” is an easy way to remember the signs of stroke:

  • Face drooping: Does one side of the face droop or feel numb?
  • Arm weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech difficulty: Is speech slurred or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.”
  • Time to call 911: If someone shows any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Getting to a hospital quickly can make a big difference in a stroke patient’s outcome. Certain treatments, like clot-busting drugs or mechanical thrombectomy, are time-sensitive and can only be given within a few hours of the onset of symptoms.

Stroke Awareness Month is an opportunity to spread the word about stroke prevention, recognition, and treatment. By raising awareness, we can help more people understand the risk factors, warning signs, and actions to take in the event of a stroke. This knowledge can ultimately save lives and improve outcomes for stroke survivors.


What is LSVT BIG and what does it have to do with helping Parkinson’s patients?

LSVT BIG (Lee Silverman Voice Treatment) is a specific treatment regimen that was developed after it was shown that specific cues for patients that deal with Parkinson’s Disease helped to address their voice deficits. Some of the most commonly shared symptoms of movement with Parkinson’s Disease involve freezing or festinating gait (shuffling), smaller overall movements with upper and lower extremities, and rigidity of joints- specifically with trunk movement. With Parkinson’s Disease, the patient’s internal comparator (basal ganglia) is thrown off due to the decrease in overall dopamine, which is the neurotransmitter within the body that helps this part of the brain work properly. This leads to many symptoms, including those listed above. With LSVT BIG, the therapist helps the patient utilize EXTERNAL cues to help improve their overall movement. Since the patient’s internal system is not working properly, it is crucial that the patient understands that their movement is smaller than intended and that in order to produce normal movement, they need to move BIG. This is a very common cue that is used within LSVT BIG which signals the patient to make bigger movements with their arms, legs, and with the way they move their whole body throughout the day. With constant feedback and constant practice, patients going through this treatment are able to learn to produce better movement, which can help their quality of life and safety with improved overall gait speed and stability.

by Brady Holcomb, PT, DPT

More about Brady:

My wife Leslie Ann and I moved from Lubbock to Abilene in August of 2019 when I accepted a position at West Texas Rehab Center. I received my Bachelor’s of Science in Exercise Sports Science from Lubbock Christian University and a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Harding University. After graduating from physical therapy school in 2018, I was provided the opportunity to practice in rural health in outpatient orthopedics before coming to Abilene. I have a passion for serving rural communities, and still see that passion being fulfilled in serving the people who live in and around the Abilene area. I have a special interest in Parkinson’s Disease after being certified in LSVT BIG and getting the chance to work with patients dealing with this disease process. I am also certified in Dry Needling and have an interest in orthopedics, specifically in treating a variety of shoulder injuries. In addition, I am currently pursuing additional certification to be an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist. My hobbies outside of work include road and mountain biking, hiking and running with my wife and my sheepadoodle Gimli, and also playing the guitar and the banjo.