As a parent, hearing diagnoses like Torticollis and Plagiocephaly can be intimidating and overwhelming. In this post, we will simplify these 2 (very common) infant diagnoses which we encounter and treat here at One Point regularly.
This is basically a shortening of a muscle in the neck (usually the sternocleidomastoid muscle or "SCM") associated with an asymmetrical head position. Babies with torticollis tend to tilt their head to one side and turn their head to the opposite side. Other muscles can also be involved depending on the individual but the "SCM" is usually the primary culprit.
This is basically a flattening on the back of one side of the skull. This flattening makes it difficult for infants to turn their head in the opposite direction when lying on their back.
These 2 diagnoses go hand in hand as they both lead to an infant preferring to turn their head to one side versus the other.
The good news is, with some simple, conservative interventions these 2 conditions are easily treatable!
The primary focus of physical therapy treatment in babies with torticollis and plagiocephaly is making sure infants get full range of motion of their neck via stretching and positioning as well as making sure that infants develop symmetrical, age appropriate neck strength. Depending on the individual, infants may also be referred to a specialist to receive a cranial remodeling orthosis (more commonly known as a baby helmet) to help round out their skull!
What can you do now with your infant to help combat the risk of torticollis and/or plagiocephaly? TUMMY TIME (always the answer when it comes to infants!) Making sure your baby is getting plenty of time on their tummy to strengthen their neck muscles and improve head control is crucial for so many reasons, including reducing the risk of plagiocephaly and torticollis.
It is also a good idea to observe your baby and see if they prefer to look to one side or appear to frequently tilt their head to one side. If so, it is a good time to consult with your pediatrician and come in for a physical therapy evaluation to get started with some treatment to ensure that your baby has the opportunity for optimal, symmetrical gross motor development moving forward!