Monday, October 26, 2009

Does your baby tilt and hold his head to one side?

© Bartzuza

Your baby may have a condition that is known as torticollis. Torticollis is a term that describes an abnormal neck posture. Typically, the parents or physician observe that the baby prefers to tilt or turn his/her head and neck to one side. Evidence in the literature suggests that there may be over 80 differential diagnoses that may cause a torticollis posture. The first step to determine if your baby has torticollis is to bring up your concerns to your pediatrician so he can examine your baby and perform tests as indicated. Neck x-rays are sometimes advised to rule out any abnormality of the vertebrae.

How will I know if my baby has torticollis?

You will notice that your baby prefers to hold his/her head to one side and may have limited neck movement. Torticollis is usually diagnosed within the first 2-3 months of life by the pediatrician. Torticollis is also often associated with an asymmetrical head shape (positional plagiocephaly). This often occurs when babies sleep with their head always turned to one side.

How is torticollis treated?

Conservative treatment of torticollis typically includes passive muscle stretching exercises, active range of motion activities/strengthening exercises, positioning and handling techniques for postural correction, lateral head righting/postural control and developmental exercises. Evidence based outcome measures support manual stretching with good success rates reported from 61-85%.

Should my baby be examined by a physical therapist?

If your baby has been diagnosed with torticollis, you should seek an examination by a pediatric physical therapist as soon as possible. Torticollis limits the ability for a child to move their head freely to see, hear, and interact with his/her environment. Torticollis may also lead to delayed body awareness, weakness and difficulties with balance, and asymmetrical use of their arms and legs during their developmental stages resulting in favoring one side of the body. Physical therapists will perform a thorough neuromusculoskeletal examination of your baby and develop an appropriate program for your child that specifically fits his/her needs. They will check for other conditions that can occur with children who present with torticollis including plagiocephaly, hip dysplasia, and spine problems. They will discuss the results of the examination with you and provide education for a home activity program that includes not only stretching/range of motion exercises, but also information on massage techniques, positioning ideas, and strengthening exercises to prevent any asymmetry that may be occurring. The physical therapist will also observe the patient’s gross motor skills to assure that they are meeting their motor milestones.

How do I get started?
Most cases of torticollis respond very well to physical therapy intervention. Discuss your concerns with your pediatrician and obtain a prescription for physical therapy.

At Fauquier Health Outpatient Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, our pediatric physical therapy team has special training to treat not only torticollis, but all other congenital, orthopedic, and developmental disorders. We provide a child friendly environment with hours to accommodate school and parent work schedules.

If you feel your child may benefit from this service and would like to hear more, please call us at 540-316-2680. Or click on the button below to ask a question.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October is National Physical Therapy Month

National Physical Therapy Month, sponsored by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), is a nationwide observance held each October. This year’s theme, “Move Forward: Physical Therapy Brings Motion to Life” reflects the physical therapist brand, “Physical therapists help you to restore and improve motion to achieve long-term quality of life.”

Physical Therapists are highly educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility without, in many cases, the use of expensive surgery or the side effects of prescription medications. Learn more about the conditions physical therapists can treat at

At Fauquier Hospital Outpatient Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation we have highly skilled, experienced clinicians who have a multitude of certifications to improve your quality of life. We have several specialized physical therapy programs that provide treatment of Pediatric, Women’s Health, Spine, Sports Therapy, Occupational Injuries, Orthopedic and Neurological conditions. Our experienced physical therapist staff has the following certifications/specializations:
  • McKenzie Spine Certified Mechanical Diagnosis & Therapy (3)
  • Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (3)
  • Certified Weight Management Instructor (1)
  • Certified Aquatic Therapist (1)
  • Women’s Health Specialists (3)
  • Certified Ergonomic Assessment Specialist (1)
  • NDT Trained therapist in Adult Hemiplegia (1)
  • Certified Functional Capacity Evaluators (2)

We can offer you a specialized examination and treatment in these areas of expertise.

If you feel like we may be able to help you regain your quality of life, or have questions about how we may meet your specific needs, please contact one of our physical therapists at Fauquier Health or press the button below to ask your question.