Torticollis / Plagiocephaly

  • We Specialize in the Treatment of Torticollis

    Torticollis is a rare condition in newborns and involves the shortening/tightening of one of the neck muscles called the sternocleidomastoid. Shortening of this muscle causes the head to be tilted toward the affected side and rotate in the opposite direction.

    For example, a left Torticollis would cause the child’s head to tilt to the left and rotate to the right.

    What Causes Torticollis?

    The cause of infant Torticollis is typically a traumatic childbirth or prolonged malpositioning within the womb.

    The sternocleidomastoid muscle may become damaged and scarred during childbirth, which causes a shortening (also known as a contracture) of the muscle. Abnormal shortening of the muscle during child development within the womb is also a reported cause of this condition.

    The result of this condition is a child that may experience the following:

    • Weakness
    • Difficulty rotating the head and interacting with the environment
    • Balance problems
    • Poor spatial awareness
    • Delayed development

    Because prolonged rotation of the head may occur with Torticollis, an abnormal shape of the child’s head may occur as well. This condition is called plagiocephaly.

    Possible Treatments for Torticollis

    Physical therapy is a common intervention for congenital Torticollis. Treatment typically involves:

    • Parent education
    • Range of motion exercises
    • Positioning
    • Passive stretching
    • Purposeful play designed to integrate specific movements and behaviors

    If Your Child Needs Help, Don’t Hesitate to Contacts Us At (773) 685-8482 For More Information

    More information can be obtained at:

    1. Wikipedia – Torticollis
    2. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
    3. Instructions for stretching a left sternocleidomastoid Torticollis
    4. Instructions for stretching a right sternocleidomastoid Torticollis
  • We Specialize in the Treatment of Plagiocephaly

    Plagiocephaly is a condition in which there is flattening of one side of a child’s head. It typically occurs when a child spends the majority of time on his/her back in the crib.

    Because the cranial bones have not completely fused until the child reaches age two, the head can be molded into a flattened position when most of the time is spent lying on the back.

    Plagiocephaly Usually Gets Better & We Can Help

    While this condition may cause parental anxiety, it almost always resolves. In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics launched a public health campaign (called “Back to Sleep”) to reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), by strongly recommending that babies sleep on their backs.

    As a result, there has been an increase in the number of Plagiocephaly cases, but the tradeoff is undoubtedly worth it since SIDS has decreased by approximately 40%.

    The Signs of Plagiocephaly

    Plagiocephaly signs include a misshapen head when the baby is viewed from the top, and the diagnosis should only be made by a qualified pediatrician or physical therapist.

    Treatment by a Pediatric Specialist

    Treatment usually involves encouraging repositioning of the baby during sleep so he/she spends more time on the uninvolved side of the head. Additionally, you may choose to move the crib to another area of the room or reposition mobiles/stimulus that encourages the baby to rotate the head away from the involved side while awake.

    In severe cases, custom-made helmets may be prescribed to remold the head over time gently.

    If Your Child Needs Help, Don’t Hesitate to Contacts Us At (773) 685-8482 For More Information

    Additional resources:

    2. Positional Plagiocephaly
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