Hypotonia: How Can Physiotherapy Help?
What is Hypotonia? Hypotonia is deceased muscle tone. Muscle tone is the amount of resistance a muscle gives you in response to stretch. It can demonstrate on it's own (benign congenital hypotonia) or it can be indicative of another condition. Hypotonia is noticed when a child is picked up or held and
they have a "slip through" feeling as if they could slip through your arms. A child could end up being delayed in fine or gross motor activities/milestones. Parents may notice that baby has a hard time holding up their head on their tummy or have a more difficult time sitting than expected or not moving or transitioning in and out of positions like sitting. Sometimes they exhibit a wide base of support when sitting. Speech and feeding may also pose a problem. Some conditions that exhibit low muscle tone are down syndrome, muscular dystrophy or Marfan syndrome or autism spectrum disorder. Early treatment is paramount to minimize long term impairments and provide best outcomes.
Physiotherapy will focus on strengthening the muscles around joints for increased support and stability. Core stability and posture are also the focus. To help facilitate motor development there are great exercises that involve moving baby through transverse and rotational planes. Parents can be trained to perform some of these movements at home.
As children age, therapy would focus on motor planning, control as well as improving speed and quality of movement. Improving postural alignment will also improve activation of correct movement patterns and prevent compensatory movement patterns.
Every child is different so a comprehensive assessment is needed to determine what treatment approach would be best. In collaboration with parents, we can determine what best meets your goals for your child. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Heather Gibson, BSc., BSc. PT. CME cert.