What is Torticollis?


Our first post was on infant motor milestone assessment and one of the things we also screen for in this assessment is torticollis, the shortening of neck muscles that causes a preference in the direction baby looks.

Understanding Toricollis.

Torticollis: shortening of one of the neck muscles, usually the sternocleidomastoid (SCM), resulting in the baby’s head tilting slightly to the side and rotating in the opposite direction.

Do you need a doctor’s referral?

We see these referrals from doctors, chiropractors, midwives and parents who have noticed that their baby looks one way more than the other. You do not need a doctor’s referral to book an appointment. If you have extended benefits that cover physiotherapy, you can use these to cover your session.

What does a torticollis assessment involve?

When you come into physiotherapy for this issue we assess how much baby moves their head on their own to each side and also how much we are able to passively move their head. If there are any restrictions we can teach you some stretches and strengthening exercises, as well as positioning techniques that would be best for your child.

We find this a great opportunity for the you to gain education on positioning, gross motor milestones and ask any questions you may have about development of your baby. When we are assessing a baby for torticollis we are always monitoring their gross motor skills and development for their age. If there are any concerns, we can have the you work on these areas as well!

Often times the families were unaware of the skills noted as needing improvement, or they noticed and were unsure of who to ask. This “one on one” time with your family is beneficial to decrease the stress for you and allow any questions to be answered. If we are unable to answer your questions we can refer you to someone who would be more knowledgeable in that area.

When is the best time to get assessed?

The earlier torticollis is identified the easier it is to resolve. Early identification also reduces the likelihood of secondary issues of torticollis such as plagiocephaly. If you are unsure if your baby should be assessed, feel free to call or email us and we can answer any questions!