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What is Torticollis?


Types of torticollis:

The most common type of torticollis is called congenital muscular torticollis (CMT)

What is CMT:

Congenital muscular torticollis is characterized by the shortening of a muscle in the neck called the sternocleidomastoid.

Sternocleidomastoid_muscle
via Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sternocleidomastoid_muscle

This muscle is responsible for tilting your head to the same side, but rotating your head to the opposite side; it is also responsible for some flexion of the neck, or looking down. For example, the right sternocleidomastoid will tilt / side bend your baby’s head to the right and rotate their head to look towards the left shoulder while also pulling their chin downward.



Why causes this type of torticollis?

Though we aren’t sure of the exact cause, there are a couple of reasons why your child might have developed torticollis.

1. Position in the womb

2. Trauma to the sternocleidomastoid muscle during birth

3. Abnormal development of the sternocleidomastoid muscle or surrounding bones


How can I tell if my baby has torticollis?

Some things to take note of if you believe your baby may have torticollis:

1. Baby will only look towards one side, despite direction of visual or auditory stimulation

2. Baby may have difficulty breastfeeding on one side as compared to the other

3. Development of a flat or bald spot on one side of the head (called positional plagiocephaly)

4. A small bump on the side of the neck

What do I do if I think my baby has torticollis?

Your doctor will do a clinical exam to determine if your baby has torticollis. If the diagnosis is confirmed, then they will instruct you on stretches and positioning to help with lengthening of the affected sternocleidomastoid muscle and most likely refer you to physical therapy.

What to expect:

Your physical therapist will work on stretching the tight muscle while also strengthening the opposing side and upper extremities. They will assist in milestone development in order to promote symmetry in your baby’s movements as they develop.

Sometimes, babies with torticollis also develop something called plagiocephaly which is a flat spot on the back of the head, most often on the same side that you baby prefers to look toward. If so, your doctor may measure and potentially prescribe a cranial helmet to assist in head shaping.



Torticollis treatment at Bumblebee


Bumblebee is currently offering physical therapy treatment for torticollis.Your bumblebee therapist will develop a treatment plan that will address your child’s specific needs based on their current stage of development and presentation while incorporating a home exercise and stretching program so you can remain involved in your child’s care.


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