What is torticollis?
Torticollis is a common condition seen in infants. It is typically classified by an infant’s head tilted to one side and rotated towards the opposite side. Torticollis is often congenital, which means it was present at birth, but it can also be acquired after birth.
Over time, a muscle in the neck called the sternocleidomastoid can become shortened and stronger, which causes the baby to prefer to hold his/her head in a laterally tilted and opposite rotated position. Subsequently the muscles on the opposite side of the neck can become lengthened and weaker.
There are many causes of torticollis. It can be due to positioning in the womb, a traumatic birth history, long body length, or difficulty turning the head in both directions. Torticollis can range from mild to severe. If left untreated, torticollis can progress to asymmetrical motor development, postural deformities, and visual impairments. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms early.
Signs and Symptoms
What should I do if I am noticing these signs in my baby?
As soon as you notice any of the above symptoms in your baby, reach out to a physical therapist and a pediatrician. Physical therapists can help treat your baby’s torticollis.
Research shows that early physical therapy intervention can reduce the duration of care by up to 80%. A physical therapist will assess your baby’s neck range of motion, strength, posture, and overall motor development. They will also look to rule out any additional musculoskeletal conditions that are associated with torticollis. They will then begin a play-based individualized plan of care to promote symmetrical development in your baby.
Treatment sessions usually last about 45 minutes during which your physical therapist will provide you with gentle stretches, strengthening exercises, tummy time strategies, tips for holding and positioning your baby, and modifications to your baby’s environment to best set them up for success.
Below are a few tips to start with while you are setting up your physical therapy evaluation:
KidSPOT physical therapists can assist you in identifying if your baby has the signs of torticollis. Click here to contact KidSPOT.