By: Jason Kang, PT, DPT, TPI Level 1
Pediatrics / Adolescents Program Director
Congenital Muscular Torticollis (CMT) is a common muscular disorder in infants. Learn about CMT below.
As a parent, congenital muscular torticollis (CMT), may sound like a scary diagnosis for your infant. However, CMT is a common muscular disorder and most cases can be treated with the right parental education and infant physical therapy.
What is CMT?
CMT results in tightness of a child’s sternocleidomastoid (a long muscle on the side of the neck). In some cases it can also cause tightness in the upper back. Common symptoms of CMT include the infant’s head being tilted to one side and favoring looking in one direction. If left untreated, CMT may lead to plagiocephaly which is the flattening of one side of the head. It can also create a number of other issues including impeding your child’s critical motor developmental stages such as being in the prone position (on stomach with head lifted and arms propping themselves up), quadruped (on all fours), rolling, sitting, and standing.
How can I help my child?
Typically pediatricians will diagnose CMT early on. However, if you’re noticing symptoms, reach out to a medical provider or a physical therapy practice that specializes in pediatrics, like SPEAR (no prescription needed).
Quick Tips to Start Now
Promote tummy time! I recommend about 80 minutes throughout the day. Begin with 2-3 minutes after every changing, switching of positions, before/after naps or feedings. Increase the duration of tummy time with your baby’s tolerance. This will decrease the time spent on his/her back and decrease the constant weighing down of the skull which results in a flat spot.
Feed from both directions. Use one arm for one feeding, and switch arms for the next feeding to promote looking in both directions.
Avoid keeping your baby in a carrier whenever possible. As a parent, it may be easier to keep your baby in a carrier but try not to. This restricts the child from moving, playing and learning.
If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment with a pediatric physical therapist, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 646-841-1411.