Pediatric physical therapists are further trained in the treatment of torticollis.  Torticollis is a condition occurring when the muscle that runs up the side and toward the back of the neck becomes tight, weakened or thickened, causing the head to tilt; the chin points toward one shoulder while the head tilts toward the opposite shoulder.  The most common form of this condition is congenital muscular torticollis (CMT), which affects infants and is commonly diagnosed within the first 2 months of life.  It is often caused by birth trauma, or by sleeping or staying in 1 position for a prolonged period of time. If left untreated, torticollis can become a permanent condition.

Torticollis may lead to additional problems, such as:

  • Flattening of the skull (plagiocephaly) in infants.
  • Movement that favors 1 side of the body, affecting the arms, trunk, and hips. This can lead to strength imbalances, such as an elevated shoulder and side-bending of the trunk.
  • Developmental hip dysplasia.
  • Scoliosis
  • Limited ability to turn the head to see, hear and interact with surroundings, which can lead to delayed cognitive development.
  • Delayed body awareness or lack of self-awareness and interaction.
  • Difficulty with balance.

Physical therapists provide treatment to address the impairments caused by torticollis. Early treatment results in the best outcomes. The physical therapist will work with a child’s caregiver to develop and reach mutual goals. This may include an individualized treatment plan to:

  • Strengthen neck muscles
  • Correct muscle imbalance
  • Gain pain-free movement (range of motion)
  • Improve postural control and symmetry
  • Improve the body’s alignment by easing muscle tension

These goals may be achieved through stretching, strengthening, massage, positioning, taping, and a home exercise program.

Adapted from the American Physical Therapy Association, August 2016

Orthopedic Physical Therapy

Orthopedic Physical Therapy

Orthopedic physical therapists diagnose, manage and treat disorders and injuries of the musculoskeletal system, as well as rehabilitate patients following orthopedic surgery. Orthopedic physical therapists are trained in the treatment of post-operative joints, acute sports injuries, chronic musculoskeletal injuries, complications following a stroke, and amputations, just to name a few. Joint mobilizations, soft tissue mobilization, strength and flexibility training, neuromuscular training, hot/cold packs, and electrical stimulation are just a few of the modalities often used to advance recovery in the orthopedic setting. Individuals who have suffered injury or disease affecting the muscles, bones, ligaments, or tendons of the body will benefit from assessment by a physical therapist specialized in orthopedics.

Adapted from the Physical Therapy Dictionary, August 2016