Torticollis in Newborns/ Infants

Torticollis is a category of disorders that exhibit flexion, extension, or twisting of muscles of the neck beyond their normal position. In torticollis, the neck tends to twist to one side causing a head tilt. The condition can either develop slowly if you have a family history of the disorder, or acutely from trama.

Children, infants, and newborns may acquire torticollis from congenital causes or trama due to childbirth. It is a postural physical change present at brith that results from a shortening and fibrosis of the sternocleidomastoid muscle on one side of the neck. Infants often sleep with their heads in the same position against the mattress, which can lead to muscular torticollis.

Since spasmodic torticollis is an abnormal contraction of the muscle in one side of the neck, people will appear with their head turned or tipped to one side. Neck muscles and those between the neck and shoulder will be tense and can be tender. A flattened area on one side of the back of the skull can be present due to more pressure to this area when the child is lying on his/her back.

When an infant is treated for torticollis by a Physiotherapist, evidence has shown full recovery in approximately 70% of subjects by 12 months of age. The Physio will perform gentle stretching using carrying and play techniques to promote active neck rotation, and discourage tilting of the head towards the affected side.

Strengthing the contralateral neck muscles by carrying the infant with his/her body tilted to the affected side, practising assisted rolling to the contralateral side, or side lying on the affected side can all help treat torticollis. hysiotherapy is effective at increasing neck range of motion, improving the posture of the neck, and assisting with the more normal development/ shaping of the skull and muscles 


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