Therapy Ideas

Torticollis-What It Is and How Physical Therapy Can Help

~Submitted by Whitney Woodhull-Smith, DPT

Torticollis is the tightening or shortening of the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle (a neck muscle).  This tightness causes the head to lean toward the tight muscle and turn away from it.  Torticollis is the third most common congenital musculoskeletal anomaly in newborns.  It is not always known why torticollis occurs, but it is often caused by the position of the head or neck in utero or during labor and delivery.  Plagiocephaly (flattening of the skull) is often related to torticollis and is worsened by spending too much time lying on the back.  With torticollis there is a muscle imbalance and the baby has difficulty maintaining their head in the middle.  The neck is tight when moved in the opposite direction.

Torticollis is treated with physical therapy. Performing stretches that your PT teaches you is vital to improving the baby’s condition.  Physical therapy focuses on stretching the tightened SCM and strengthening the opposite SCM.  It also addresses the baby’s gross motor development.  Tummy time is key to strengthening neck muscles and slowing down the flattening of the head.  If left untreated, torticollis can affect the baby’s skull,  facial development, and alignment.  Please make an appointment with your pediatrician if you are concerned about your baby’s neck or head shape.

  Filed under: RTS Team, Therapy Ideas, Topics

Making the Most Out of Therapy Sessions

We are often asked by parents how can they maximize their child’s progress while receiving therapy at RTS.   We have created a short list of strategies and ideas to help parents strengthen their partnership in the therapy process.

  • Be an active participant in the session! We welcome and encourage parent involvement in sessions.  It is also a great time for your child’s therapist to demonstrate intervention strategies which you can incorporate into daily routines.
  • Ask questions! Please do not shy-away from questions for fear that something is silly to ask.  We understand that the therapy process can be confusing at times, and welcome any and all questions that you may have.  The more information you have, the more knowledgeable you will be and the greater impact you will have as a partner in the process.
  • Regular attendance with sessions. Your child’s therapist has made specific recommendations for how often she needs to see him/her in order make progress with therapy goals.  Consistent attendance has a significant impact on progress.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Whether your child is seen in your home; at a daycare/preschool; or in our office, your child’s therapist will give you strategies and homework to practice until the next session.  Daily practice is an integral part of the therapy process.   Incorporate siblings and other family members into your “practice time” in order to encourage greater carryover of skills into daily routines.

  Filed under: Therapy Ideas