Posts

What is Torticollis?

, ,

What is Torticollis ? 

Torticollis is the term used to describe the tightening of a muscle in baby’s neck. It is the shortening of one of the neck muscles, the sternocleidomastoid (SCM), which results in the baby’s head tilting slightly to the side and rotating in the opposite direction. 

What are some causes of torticollis?

  • Position of baby in utero (higher risk with twins or pregnancies with growth restrictions)
  • A long/difficult labour and delivery which can cause muscle spasms in baby’s neck
  • A preference of looking one direction over the other, eventually leading to the muscle shortening
  • Having a flat spot on the head may cause the baby to always rest in this position and over time, tightens the muscle

These are some conditions that appear like torticollis and are important to rule out: 

  • Vision difficulties
  • Hearing difficulties 
  • Reflux or GERD 
  • Viral infections 
  • Improper alignment of the spine 

How will torticollis impact my child?

Imagine your baby trying to develop their gross-motor milestones while their head is always tilted and looking one way. They will have difficulty with the following:

  • Learning to roll both directions
  • Learning how to sit independently
  • Discovering where the center of their body is (discovering midline)

Furthermore, torticollis can often lead to plagiocephaly – a flat spot on baby’s head, because of a preference to always rest in one position. See our plagiocephaly post here: Help! My baby has a flat head!

The neat thing about torticollis and plagiocephaly is it can be corrected quite easily, especially from a young age. EARLY INTERVENTION is key, and easiest to treat. 

What to expect during an assessment with your paediatric physiotherapist:

  • We will see how your baby’s neck moves to determine if there are any restrictions
  • Rule out the more complicated causes of torticollis
  • Provide tips to help to correct this and if warranted, give you stretches and strengthening exercises appropriate for the stage of your baby’s development
  • Depending on baby’s age and severity of the torticollis, we may also track your baby’s head shape to ensure they’re not developing a flat spot

Remember, the EARLIER the BETTER. It’s much easier to work on positioning and stretching exercises with younger babies, and that can allow us to introduce strength exercises at the optimal time. 

If you have any questions, please contact us at hello@playworksphysio.com! We’re able to provide assessments over video call until we get over the COVID-19 hurdle. You do not need a referral for physiotherapy.

Written by: Karly Dagys, Physiotherapist

Help! My baby has a flat head!

, ,

My baby has a flat head…

Is this a common issue?

YES, this is a very common issue with babies. Flattening can be caused by the following:

  • Your baby has a preference of looking in one direction, resulting from tight neck muscles
  • Your baby prefers looking in a certain direction but there are no neck restrictions
  • Your baby is a good sleeper and doesn’t move much when sleeping

 3 Types of Flattening

Plagiocephaly is flattening on one side of the head from your baby preferring to look left or right. It is often associated with tight neck muscles (torticollis). Things you may notice:

  • Flattening on the back when washing your baby’s hair
  • One cheek appears larger
  • One side of your baby’s forehead is more prominent than the other
  • One eye is slightly larger than the other

Brachycephaly is flattening directly on the back of your baby’s head and is often seen with babies who sleep for long stretches without turning their head to either side. It causes baby’s head to be wider than average.

Scaphycephaly is the rarest type of head shape issues we see and is when the head is more narrow than average. It is most commonly seen in babies who spent long periods of time in the NICU because their heads are being turned from one side to the other.

How will a flat head impact my child?

  • Depending on the severity of flattening, your child may have difficulty fitting helmets, because these are made for the average shaped head.
  • Plagiocephaly can result in a forward shift of the facial bones, which can be purely aesthetic or in severe cases can lead to jaw issues.

What can we do?

  • A paediatric physiotherapist can measure your baby’s head to determine if there are any concerns and provide you with education to best manage your baby’s head shape.
  • When recommended, we can refer you and your baby to an orthoptist for helmeting. This is dependent on your baby’s age and the severity of flattening.

When is it best to seek help?

  • The earlier the better! This provides more time to track your baby’s head growth and improvements in flattening. The earlier you come in the more likely we can address the flattening conservatively (with positioning, education and stretches if needed).
  • If a helmet referral is required, seeking help earlier is better to optimize the amount of change obtained with the helmet.

 If you have any questions about your baby’s head shape, feel free to contact us!

 

Written by: Maegan Mak