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An Introduction to Torticollis

February 8, 2018 | Guest Contributor: Ben Stephenson, PT graduate intern

Have you ever heard of a condition called torticollis? At Pediatric Therapy Associates, we often see infants with this condition and have very successful outcomes. Torticollis is a condition that affects the sternocleidomastoid, a muscle that causes neck side bending to one side and rotation to the other side. This condition can often be accompanied by a condition called plagiocephaly (flatness on one side of the back of the head) due to prolonged positioning with the baby’s neck rotated in one direction.

We all have two sternocleidomastoid muscles in our necks, one on the right and one on the left. They are very important muscles that help us to move our neck to explore and interact with our world!

Pediatric Therapy Associates prides itself on being up-to-date with the most evidence-based interventions for children with torticollis. We utilize anything from stretches and strengthening exercises, educating parents about proper positioning, using hands-on massage and manual therapy techniques, and even using kinesiotape (the very same tape that many athletes use in the Olympics!).

Research shows that physical therapy is very effective in treating and reducing torticollis. Not only this, but the effectiveness is improved the earlier that children are referred to physical therapy. The American Physical Therapy Association Pediatric Section reports an astonishing statistic that 98% of babies recover from torticollis in 1.5 months if physical therapy is started before the child is 1 month old. Additionally if PT is started after 1 month of age, physical therapy takes an average of 6 months to help to resolve the asymmetry. Starting therapy after 6 months of age may take up to 10 months of physical therapy intervention before the child recovers. It goes to show that early referral and immediate physical therapy intervention is very important!

We hope you found this entry interesting and that you speak with your pediatrician if your child or loved one shows signs of this condition.