I recently traveled to Connecticut to attend the “Torticollis & Plagiocephaly: Assessment & Treatment of Infants & Children, Pulling It Together” course by Cindy Miles. Congenital Muscular Torticollis is characterized by side bending of the head to one side and rotation of the head to the opposite side due to a tight sternocleidomastoid muscle. You may see your child preferring to tilt to one side and/or preferring to turn their head to one side. Plagiocephaly is flattening of the head on one side.
The incidence of Torticollis and Plagiocephaly has increased since the rise of the Back to Sleep campaign. There are estimates that 1/6 infants have Torticollis. Torticollis affects the entire child including visual tracking, sensory awareness, gross motor skills, head shape, feeding, and the vestibular system. To decrease an infant’s risk for Torticollis and Plagiocephaly, parents should place their infant on their tummy to play starting on day one of their life. Additionally, an infant should receive at least 60 minutes of supervised tummy time per day. This position increases the baby’s strength and control of their muscles as well as provides sensory input to the face and oral motor area.
During this course, I learned additional examination techniques as well as interventions including stretching, positioning, and strengthening to help infants with these diagnoses. Receiving physical therapy early leads to good outcomes. If you suspect your child has Torticollis and/or Plagiocephaly, come see us at the Boston Ability Center to schedule an initial physical therapy evaluation.
Jenna Szilagyi, PT, DPT