Children's Hospital of Wisconsin offers evaluation and treatment of infants with torticollis and positional plagiocephaly. Torticollis is a tightening of the neck muscles resulting in a head tilt and/or head turn preference. It is most often caused by the position of a baby in the uterus before birth or due to mild injury to the neck muscles during delivery. Newborns and young infants also may develop torticollis if their head always tips or turns to the same side before they develop better head control.
In addition, torticollis may result in flattening of the skull on one side as the baby keeps its head turned to one side more than the other. This is called positional plagiocephaly and is due to a prolonged pressure on one area of the skull.
Infants referred to the Torticollis Clinic will be seen by a craniofacial specialist/plastic surgeon and a pediatric physical therapist. A clinic visit may include:
- Head shape assessment with craniometry.
- Head circumference measurement.
- Photographs of the infant to monitor the head shape and torticollis.
- Physical therapy assessment of range of motion, muscle strength and motor skills.
- Instruction in head shape repositioning techniques.
- Instruction in home exercises and activities for improving range of motion, strength, motor skills and increasing tummy time.
- A referral for outpatient physical therapy evaluation and treatment.
- A referral for a cranial orthosis consulation (a helmet to help prevent further flattening of the skull).
- A referral for X-rays or other imaging.
- A recommendation for a follow-up visit to the Torticollis Clinic.
Outpatient physical therapy treatment requires regular visits to a pediatric physical therapist. How often a child needs to be seen is based on the severity of the torticollis. Infants may need to be treated several times a week in severe cases, or may only need to be treated monthly if their case is mild.
Outcomes appear most effective when physical therapy is initiated before 3 months of age. Physical therapy treatment for torticollis usually lasts until the child is walking independently without a head tilt/turn preference or other abnormal motor pattern.
To make an appointment, contact Central Scheduling at (414) 607-5280 or toll-free at (877) 607-5280.