Wednesday Windows: A look back at Torticollis

Sydney is about to be a year old.  I had someone that had asked me for an update on her situation.  So I am going to try to talk about everything that has happened over the past year.  For those of you reading this for the first time, please see the first post about torticollis.

The process to get physical therapy to start was a long one.  I am just thankful that I did some research on my own to try to help her along.  Otherwise, I am not sure I would have such a happy update.  She was just about 5 months old when therapy started.  This is a condition that should be caught by two or three months of age.  It was in my daughters case.  It was just the steps to follow that took longer.  On to what took place since my update in mid February.

Sydney was seeing the physical therapist every other week through the end of July.  Then once in August.  Our next appointment will be some time in October to make sure she is on track with everything.  When it comes to early intervention it is easier to keep assistance than to get it back.  We decided that it would be better to spread things out and make sure she was progressing still rather than to stop assistance.

The therapist would come and work with my daughter at daycare.  I thought that this would be the best thing to do to save time and to also make sure that her care providers were involved.  This way they could talk with the physical therapist and ask questions and learn how to do the exercises or at least be given pointers for what they can do.  The ladies that work with my daughter were very interested and receptive.  They tried to make an effort to help her to develop the way she should.  Even if it was as simple as which way they lay her down on the changing table or hold her for her bottle.

The main goal that had been set was for her to be crawling by 9 months with no head tilt.  She wasn’t quite crawling at that point in time though.  She was crawling in July though.  And the head tilt was minimal at that point if at all.  The next thing that I wanted to wait on was her walking.  And on September 6, while she was at day care, she took three steps.  And finally yesterday, I was able to see her take a step and a lunge for me!  She is standing on her own as well.  And at this point in time, there is no noticeable head tilt!

I had thought about doing videos to show the exercises that we did with her.  But they are the type of thing that you really need to work with a physical therapist to make sure you are doing right.  You can do more harm than good if you don’t do them right.  Also, there are so many different ones that you can do based on the progress your child/baby has made.  It really is amazing.

I can say there are small things you can do:

  • Alternate sides you feed your child on.  This goes for breastfeeding and bottle feeding.  With breastfeeding this is more natural since you need to switch sides anyway.  When you are bottle feeding, you tend to get in a rhythm with one side.  This is something that you can also have daycare providers work on.  You do want to concentrate on getting them to turn their head in the opposite direction of their tilt.
  • Lay them down in such a way that they have to turn in the opposite direction than the tilt.  This goes for the changing table, play mat, swing, you name it.  This is also another easy one that you can pass on for other care givers of your child.  This takes very little effort, but it can go a long way in getting your child/baby to stretch those muscles.
  • Carry your baby around like a football.  You want to carry them so that if they pull their head up, it is the opposite of the tilt.  Again this is something that you can do easily and at any time.  Other care givers can work on this as well when they move them around the room.  It takes very little effort on their part.
  • Try to limit their time in swings, bouncers, and car seats.  With all of these things they will tend to tilt their head after a while no matter what you due.  I believe a lot of this is due to the motion.  I found that no matter what I did, she would always end up tilting her head to the side after about 10 minutes or less.  And when it comes to car rides, there isn’t much you can do.  It you are at home, I highly encourage you to wear your baby.  Alternate sides with them for which way they turn their head.  You can really work on this when they are asleep.  This is when they are the most relaxed and most likely to let you work with them a little.  Don’t fight them.  But try to gently turn their head in the way that they do not tend to favor due to the tilt.
  • Make sure there is plenty of support for their head.  This is again something that is fairly easy.  You can use the infant car seat supports that are sold in stores.  When I needed to use a swing, bouncy seat, or car seat, I would make sure she was as secure as possible.  And if she pulled her head out and to the side, I would gently put her head back up.  With most car trips there wasn’t much I could do.  I was just thankful they were short.

This has all just been my experience.  If you suspect that your child has torticollis, please talk to the pediatrician.  The earlier it is caught, the easier it is to treat.  I think that is the case with most things.  Early intervention is the best course of action.

Monique