TORTICOLLIS AND POSITIONAL PLAGIOCEPHALY

 

What is torticollis?

Torticollis is tightness of neck muscles on one side, which causes the baby’s head to bend to one side and turn to the opposite side.

Some babies are born with torticollis. (Congenital torticollis) This is diagnosed at birth as part of the newborn physical exam. If such cases of congenital torticollis are left untreated, plagiocephaly will follow.

However, many babies may develop torticollis because they are mostly always lying down on their backs.

torticollis106363

What is positional Plagiocephaly?

Plagiocephaly means misshapen head. This is seen as flattening of the head on the back or on one side. Positional plagiocephaly means this mis-shaping of the head is because of the baby’s head being constantly in one position.

plagio1

How is it diagnosed?

When baby is placed on tummy, baby should be able to move the head in both directions comfortably. When baby is placed on back, the examiner moves the baby’s head from one end to the other. If parent reports baby is always looking in one direction only, no matter how much they stimulate from other side, then torticollis needs to be ruled out as well.

Why does it matter?

  1. Once the head is misshapen, it’s very hard to correct shape
  2. Restriction of head movement to one side, leads to lack of eye movements to that side. torti-vision The baby is seeing an image which is tilted to one side. When such babies are treated, their brain may have a hard time learning to correct the difference between the earlier tilted images and later straight images. Many will continue to have an involuntary head bend to match the image they have in their brains from earlier exposure.
  3. Inability to see both sides of the body also creates a false impression in the baby’s brain about its shape. Many babies are unable to understand that they have two arms and hands to be used equally. This can affect baby learning to grasp objects and playing with them.
  4. Untreated torticollis may lead to the uneven shoulders, often affecting movements that need equal use of both arms like crawling, ball play, dressing/undressing etc.
  5. As the babies grow older and more physical demands are placed on the body for movement, head tilts can delay milestones and affect quality of the child’s handwriting and ability to see the teacher/boards in school  as well.

 

What can be done?

  1. Get the baby off its back! Relieve the pressure on the back or side of the head.
  2. Avoid putting babies in bouncers, swings, rockers, Jhoola etc
  3. Stop swaddling the baby. Natural movements of the baby are restricted with swaddling.
  4. Tummy time and upright should be used maximally, from day one post birth, when baby is awake.
  5. Get a professional assessment and targeted strategies to help with correction. Depending on the severity of the condition, a therapist will be able to design a program to be implemented at home as well.
  6. Follow up with therapist till baby is walking. As mentioned above, visual deficits can show up at a later stage as well. So best to have the baby tracked for milestones till walking, if not till 2 years.

For details on how to help your child with suspected or diagnosed torticollis, please get in touch with us for a session.

Happy Parenting!

Puja.

1/5/2017

 

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All comments (1)
  • sophia
    November 22, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Hi Torticollis and Plagiocephaly: Assessment and Treatment of Infants and Children is organized by Texas Children's Hospital and will be held during Mar 16 - 18, […] Read MoreHi Torticollis and Plagiocephaly: Assessment and Treatment of Infants and Children is organized by Texas Children's Hospital and will be held during Mar 16 - 18, 2018, Houston, Texas, USA. Torticollis and Plagiocephaly: Assessment and Treatment of Infants and Children is organized by Texas Children's Hospital and will be held during Mar 16 - 18, 2018, Houston, Texas, USA. Thank you Read Less

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