Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

October 31, 2016

Physical Therapy Focus: Resolving Torticollis by Jessica Turchin LPT ATRIC


October is National Physical Therapy Month and we are celebrating with the APTA #choosePT

Each physical therapist on our staff of 6 will share a bit of expertise, including Jessica Turchin MPT ATRIC!

Jessica enjoys evaluating and treating infants with torticollis, in part because quick improvements with intervention are common!

Torticollis is a tightening of the sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM) which is a large neck muscle that runs from the mastoid process (close to the ear), through the neck and down to the sternum. The SCM function is to rotate and tilt the head.  When the SCM is tight on one side, it causes the head to tilt in that direction and rotate to the opposite direction. The muscle on the opposite side becomes overstretched and weak.  

The cause of torticollis could be related to how the child was positioned in the womb, positioning following birth during sleep or resting, a secondary effect of arching the back strongly and/or if the child is not getting the necessary amount of tummy time.  

Parents noticing that their baby tends to prefer keeping their head to one side versus the other and intervening early with recommendations from a physical therapist can lead to quick and early correction of this condition.  Activities to help resolve this condition include massage, gentle stretching and exercises to strengthen the opposite side, all done in a fun, play-based manner.  

A “wait and see” approach is generally not recommended and can lead to delays in gross motor and fine motor skills, muscle imbalances in other parts of the body and flattening of the skull one the side the child prefers.

A pediatric physical therapy evaluation and treatment usually results in habilitation of this condition and return to track of typical child development.

Learn more about our physical therapists on our website and our blog.