Thursday, August 19, 2010

Joey's Torticollis

Torticollis is a condition in which a baby's head is tilted, caused by either a tightening of the muscles of the neck, flattening of the back of the head or a combination of the two. The condition often refers to tightness of a specific muscle which pulls the head sideways toward the shoulder, turns the face toward the opposite shoulder and brings the head forward on the chest. Habitually spending time in this position frequently causes other neck muscles to tighten.
[excerpt from Childrens Memorial Hospital website]

In utero, Joey was transverse for most of my pregnancy.  After he was born we began to notice that he always preferred his head tilted to the right and now looking back in photos, it was very apparent.  It also makes sense why he had problems breastfeeding in certain positions.  When he was a few months old we noticed he was developing a flat spot like David did when he was a baby. So we knew the routine with Plagiocephaly.  We talked to the pediatrician and we were referred to physical therapy for Joey.  It was diagnosed that he had Torticollis.  David did not have Torticollis, just Positional Plagiocephaly.  David liked to sleep and in one position.  Joey's was another whole set of issues.

Let's just say the first visit to Physical Therapy was not a good one.  Joey was irritable and also just began being treated for reflux.  He hated being layed down flat.  We also learned quickly that he really hated his neck muscles being touched.  There was alot of crying and it was difficult to get his measurements.  At this point too with his digestive issues, he was spitting up alot.  So if we fed him before PT then he would spit up.  If he didn't eat he was not happy either. 

After a few visits, we had a conflict in scheduling.  We ended up switching Physical Therapists to get a morning time slot.  Our new therapist specializes in cranial sacral therapy and massage.  This worked wonders with Joey.  He was calm and he enjoyed his massage time. Her style and personality clicked well with us and Joey really took to her.   The therapists were both great in recognizing when he had had a enough and needed a break.  It is somewhat overstimulating at times.

With the combination of therapy, daily exercises at home many times a day and the Infant Head Bed, we were able to decrease the flat spot significantly and also improve the mobility and movement of his neck muscles. 
Now at almost 9 months he does have a small flat spot.  Along with our Pediatrican, we decided not to treat the minor flat spot. It is not very noticable and there are not any abnormalities with his facial features.  It is alot more important that his neck is feeling better.  Joey still has the reflux, is super sensitive and has sleeping issues.  I just felt like the helmet was the last thing we need to deal with now. Though now that he is active and crawling and pulling himself on everything, the helmet would be helpful as a crash helmet! 

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