We have talked a lot about torticollis recently thanks to the new guidelines that were recently published. Here we talk about 5 signs of torticollis, and here we talk about ways to prevent torticollis. We also have a great resource handout for parents and caregivers that we will gladly pass along (please email us for it).
Torticollis is when the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle is short and/or weak. It results in a child having a preference to look to one side and tilt their head to the other side. For instance if they look to the right, they will tilt to the left. There may only be one of these present but often both are present. We teach parents how to do stretching but we also want that muscle to get stronger so that it can help to right the head when they are against gravity, as well as help keep the head in midline as they are in different positions.
Often you may see the rotation or tilt start to disappear in one position but as they go into a more challenging position, or they get tired it will come back.
We like to use a therapy ball to help with this. It can be hard to get both rotation and tilting for strengthening at the same time so check out the video above to see how we do it! We also give a few more tips on how to work on the tilt component because this generally takes the longest to come back strength-wise.