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Torticollis...the head bone's connected to the shoulder bone!

Do you remember the old nursery rhyme "Dem Bones?" If not, let me refresh your memory:

Baby showing signs of torticollis

"Well your head bone connected from your neck bone, Your neck bone connected from your shoulder bone, Your shoulder bone connected from your back bone, Your back bone connected from your hip bone." So why do I bring up a childhood nursery rhyme? Because it's a great reminder that our bones *and muscles* do NOT work in isolation. They are all CONNECTED, and so if we have tightness in our neck well.... "Your neck muscles connected to your shoulder muscles, Your shoulder muscles connected to your back muscles, And your back muscles connected to your hip muscles." The point is that for a long time we thought torticollis only affected the sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM) in the neck. Now we know different! Babies with torticollis also often experience tightness in their: - shoulder girdle - trunk - spine - pelvis and - hips

Why does this matter?

Babies with torticollis experience differences in muscle tightness from one side of their body to the other. This is what we call asymmetries.

"These asymmetries can delay and prevent progression of developmental milestones."

Let's see how! If a baby is asymmetrical in muscle tightness from one side of the body to the other, this can lead to muscle strength and movement asymmetries. This affects the way a baby can move. For example, babies with torticollis may:

This is my son with torticollis. You can see he has a head tilt to the right, right shoulder lifted, tightening to his right trunk, and raised right hip.
Torticollis: full body affects

- only roll back to belly, or belly to back over one shoulder - lean on one arm more than the other when on belly - lean one way when sitting up - keep one leg bent up more when on their belly, army crawling or attempting to crawl on hands and knees crawling or attempting to crawl on hands and knees Why does this matter? You may notice a baby has a strong preference for reaching for toys with one hand and putting weight on the opposite arm when playing on his belly. If a baby is only putting weight on, and building arm strength on one side AND only reaching with the opposite arm, this will likely prevent him from being able to progress with crawling. We need enough muscle strength to hold our body up with either arm to crawl. Like wise, we need enough movement of either arm to reach forward and crawl. Let's look at sitting. If a baby is consistently leaning one way, this leads to muscle tightness, strength and movement asymmetries. This baby will likely have poor balance, be more likely to fall and have difficulty playing in sitting. Of course this does NOT just affect crawling and sitting, but ALL developmental milestones!

So what's the best approach to get your baby FEELING and MOVING better?

Find a local pediatric physical therapist in your area to assist little ones with gaining movement, strength and coordination needed to play, explore and create "milestone moments!"


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