Baby Your Baby: Treating Torticollis with PT

(KUTV) Physical therapy isn’t just for adults. While it can help when recovering from injury or surgery, it is also useful for young children. For babies with a condition called torticollis, physical therapy can help then overcome it.

“Torticollis is defined as tightness in one of the neck muscles,” said Kelly Warner, a pediatric physical therapist with Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital.

When a child has torticollis, the neck muscle responsible for turning the head, tipping it sideways, and bringing the head forward isn’t working as it should. So when a child has tightness in that neck muscle parents will begin to notice their child tipping their head to the same side as the tightness and then turn their head away from that tight muscle.

If parents recognize their child has some flatness or a change in head shape, or if your child excessively favors one side, bring it up to your doctor.

“If you tend to notice your baby is only looking one way, they only use one hand, they’re developing any type of flat spot, or they’re tipping their head, you want to mention that to your physician,” Warner said.

From there, they can do a quick assessment and determine if it’s something parents can correct by themselves at home or if it’s more serious and you need to be referred to a physical therapist.

When your child visits a physical therapist, they will begin by doing a quick assessment of your child’s posture and how they’re holding their head. They will check the child’s range of motion by stretching their neck in both directions and tipping their head both ways. The physical therapist will look at how they’re using their body. For example, are they using both sides equally or are they only using one hand?

“Torticollis doesn’t just affect their head shape of the way they’re looking. It affects how they interact with their environment,” Warner said.

Families will then receive a home exercise program. Doing these stretches and exercises consistently at home is the most important part to treat torticollis effectively.

If left untreated, a few things can happen. The head shape will continue to get worse and because the head tilt leads to confusion in the inner ear, coordination and balance becomes very difficult as the child develops.



Wednesday, January 11, 2017