What is Torticollis?

Congenital muscular torticollis (CMT) is found at birth and is defined as a twisted neck in which the head is tilted to one side while the chin is turned to the other side. It is caused by damage to or shortening of the Sterno-cleido-mastoid muscle(SCM). Sometimes there is hematoma, a lump, in the muscle that will eventually go away as the muscle heals and lengthens. Some babies may develop plagiocephaly, or a flattening of the skull on one side. This needs further assessment by the physical therapist. The most common causes of CMT are in utero positioning, lack of space in utero, or a traumatic birth.

 

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Symptoms of torticollis include:

Baby holds their head to one side
Head tilt is noticable
A lump or swelling exists int he SCM muscle
Shoulder is higher on one side
Flattening on one side of the head
                                

Physical therapy is the primary treatment for a baby with torticollis. Treatment involves stretching the shortened muscle while strengthening all of the muscles of the neck and the core, as well as facilitating normal gross motor development. The therapist works closely with the parents to develop a home program of positioning to facilitate full active range of motion of the neck.

To find out about our approach to assessing Torticollis in infants, please follow thiis link.

Please view this Pathways Awareness Video for further information regarding torticollis and PT.

 


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