How does physiotherapy help Torticollis?
Do you think your baby might have torticollis or tight neck muscles on one side? It is not uncommon for babies to be either born with torticollis or tight neck muscles on one side, or to develop it during the birthing process or in the first month of life. The good news is that there is more awareness about it and very effective solutions to treat torticollis and avoid long-term effects!
What Causes Torticollis?
Torticollis can be caused while the baby is still in the womb and can be related to the positioning, amount of movement of the baby inside, and the amount or viscosity of amniotic fluid.
Torticollis can also be caused by any injury during the birthing process, such as by cords being wrapped around the baby’s neck, or needing assistance born in breech position that may cause pulling on the baby’s neck and shoulder.
Torticollis can also be caused or reinforced by too much time spent laying down on their back, always held in one position by parents looking out one way, not spending enough time in tummy time to combat it, etc.
How Does a Physiotherapist Treat Sciatica?
At All About Kids Rehabilitation Centre and All About Physiotherapy Performance Centre, paediatric physiotherapist will treat your baby’s torticollis by performing a thorough assessment to determine which neck and trunk muscles are affected, how primitive reflexes are contributing to it, and what factors at home may be reinforcing it. The physiotherapist will then compose a treatment plan for you and your baby.
What Will the Treatment Process Include?
The treatment process will include treating the tight neck and trunk muscles, strengthening what’s needed, helping to integrate primitive reflexes, and supporting your baby in meeting the developmental milestones. These are usually playing with both hands in midline, pulling to sit, symmetric alignment and strength in tummy time, and sitting. This will ensure that the tightness does not persist and continue to affect symmetry in movements as the baby grows.
How Many Physiotherapy Sessions Will I Need for Torticollis?
The number of treatments needed to resolve your baby’s torticollis depends on a few factors. They include how old your baby is, how serious or long the cause of torticollis was, and whether your baby has any other factors that may slow development such as lower muscle tone or connective tissue/joint hypermobility.
Generally, a paediatric physiotherapist should treat your baby once weekly to address the tightness through soft tissue work, passive and active stretching and reinforce home exercises and education. Once passive and active range of motion of the neck is improved, follow ups are spaced out to bi-weekly or monthly to ensure there is symmetrical use and strength development of the arms and trunk and spinal alignment as your baby moves through their developmental milestones.
How Long Does the Treatment Last?
It is best to follow up until your baby hits the final developmental milestone of walking independently confidently.
Corrective Exercises for Torticollis
Corrective exercises to be done at home by parents for resolving torticollis are an important part of the treatment plan. It will be super helpful for parents to be consistent with gentle stretching demonstrated to them, as well as a couple strengthening exercises focused on developmental milestones like tummy time and pulling to sit.
Corrective exercises that your paediatric physiotherapist will guide your baby through in clinic may vary between sessions as your baby progresses.
If you are suspecting your baby may have torticollis or tight neck muscles, you as an observant parent are likely picking up on something that should be addressed! You do not need your paediatrician or family doctor to agree and prescribe a physiotherapy assessment.
Book your appointment today and let’s get started!