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By Jennifer Windels, RLMC Physical Therapist

Q: What is torticollis?

A: Torticollis is a condition when the head rests in a tilted or rotated position.  It can happen at any age and for a variety of reasons but most often starts from 0-4 months and is caused by tight and/or weak neck muscles.

Q: What does torticollis look like?

A:  An infant’s head will be tilted to one side and turned to the opposite side and/or the child consistently prefers to looking in one direction over the other.

Q:  Why is torticollis a concern?

A:  If not addressed, the head tilt/turn can lead to flattening of an infant’s head, difficulties using or finding both feet and hands, difficulties visually focusing on people or items, and muscle imbalances which can delay development of skills like rolling, tummy time play, and sitting.

Q:  How can I prevent my child from developing asymmetrical posture?

A:  Think variety:  Place an infant on their back to sleep but offer a variety of other positions when they are awake and supervised.  Switch up feeding positions.  Try supporting your child lying on their side.  Place your child on their tummy on your chest while you talk, play or snuggle them.  Avoid any one position for long.  Observe how they move and play.

If you notice your child prefers looking or turning to one side, share your observations with your child’s medical provider.  If appropriate, they can refer your child to physical therapy.  Starting therapy when a child is 2-4 months old is the most successful.

Q: What can I expect from therapy?

A: Physical therapists are trained to assess and treat children who have torticollis.   Your child’s movement, posture, flexibility and strength will be assessed and a treatment plan will be created with you.  Treatment generally includes gentle muscle stretching, placing your child in new or different positions as they play to stretch or strengthen muscles, and education for parents on beneficial home activities.  With early diagnosis and a team approach to treatment, infants improve quickly and therapy often lasts only a few weeks.

Helping your baby successfully engage and explore with their world will promote healthy development. The Therapy and Wellness team at RLMC are here to help or answer questions if you have any concerns.  Call us at 218-283-5420 if you have questions or need to schedule an evaluation. 

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