Bones Home > Exercise and Osteogenesis Imperfecta

Exercise and osteogenesis imperfecta are perfect complements of each other. It has been found that immobilization of children with osteogenesis imperfecta after a fracture (or for fear of inflicting new fractures) causes additional osteoporosis. Therefore, it is vital for your child to practice some form of muscle and bone strengthening, whether it be through walking, swimming, or weight bearing.

An Introduction to Exercise and Osteogenesis Imperfecta

It has been found that immobilization of children with osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) either after a fracture or for fear of inflicting new fractures causes additional osteoporosis (or increased bone brittleness) and muscle wasting because of disuse. This also leads to more fractures. The joint laxity (looseness) associated with osteogenesis imperfecta makes the large joints unstable and adds to the danger of incurring fractures. Therefore, careful positioning and some form of muscle strengthening as soon as possible are very desirable. Never attempt to limit your child's spontaneous movement, because any activity will aid in muscle and bone strengthening.
As soon as your child's medical condition permits, you can encourage a full range of exercises, including swimming and weight bearing. Exercise can range from kicking and splashing in the bathtub to a full exercise program implemented by a physical therapist. Weight bearing can begin with propped sitting, head lifting, and partial weight bearing in the upper arms, and eventually advancing to standing and walking. Swimming is a safe exercise for children with OI and should be encouraged as soon as possible.


When your child appears ready to stand, you might consider lightweight containment-type braces for him or her. Braces are initially used with a standing frame or standing table. These devices hold the child who is wearing the braces upright in a standing position. It is hoped that standing will lead to strengthening of the child's fragile bones and, possibly, to long bone growth, thus giving these extremely short children a little more height.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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