Tag Archives: Torticollis

Read the latest posts on Torticollis from TiM, the UK’s leading clinic specialising in the treatment of flat head syndrome in babies

The Relationship Between Plagiocephaly and Torticollis

Many babies who have been diagnosed with plagiocephaly (Flat Head Syndrome) also have torticollis, a condition characterised by the head turning to one side due to a shortened neck muscle. However, the relationship between plagiocephaly and torticollis is slightly unusual as causality can go in either direction. In other words, sometimes plagiocephaly causes torticollis and sometimes it’s the other way round.

How are Plagiocephaly and Torticollis Related?

The most common cause of plagiocephaly is the fact that babies spend so much time in the same position while asleep. As the bones in their skull are still fairly soft, they can easily be moulded over time to accommodate this particular position.

A true torticollis is the result of a small knot in the muscle fibres of one of the neck muscles, the strenocleido mastoid muscle. This small knot of muscle fibres has a scary name, a sterncleido mastoid tumour, but it only means that the doctor can feel a lump of knotty tissues which can be eased out with stretches and manipulation. Babies with the condition have limitation of the neck movement from left to right, which further contributes to the tendency to keep the head turned to one side. The medical term for this reduction in neck movement is called torticollis. Many babies born with torticollis can therefore develop plagiocephaly as a result of this condition.

On the other hand, babies with severe plagiocephaly often require extra energy to turn the head to the side to which they are less accustomed. In order to avoid discomfort, they keep the head turned to the same side as much as possible, resulting in a functional shortening of the muscles on one side of the neck. This is known as functional torticollis as there is no lump of knotty fibres in the muscle.

Treatment for Torticollis and Plagiocephaly

In the early stages, the best treatment for torticollis is to gradually encourage an increase in neck movement. Regularly ease the head gently from one side to the other, only going as far as is comfortable for your baby. To help, make this into a game and you can encourage your baby to turn to the affected side by placing toys on that side or playing peep from that side. You can also encourage movement by feeding from alternating sides.

This will help you loosen and extend the tightened muscle and will result in an increase in neck mobility. You will also find that physiotherapy or osteopathy from a paediatric specialist will help to improve range of movement in the neck and help with core strength and mhead repositoningidline stability.

To further help with strength and stability and reduce the incidence and severity of plagiocephaly, repositioning techniques will enable your baby to improve control and positioning. Encourage your baby to play on the front (‘tummy time’), use a carry sling, and balance your baby on your knee without allowing him to rest his head against you.

If these techniques have failed to make a difference in the head shape by the time your baby is around five months old, it is important that you consult a specialist as soon as possible in order to avoid permanent deformation. Technology in Motion provides the unique TiMband treatment in its clinics across the UK. They have corrected thousands of babies’ head shapes to date. Call 0113 218 8030 for more information, and an expert will be happy to answer your questions.

What Causes Flat Head Syndrome in Babies?

What Causes a Flat Head?

Flat head syndrome is a condition that can appear at any time from birth, but it tends to take a few weeks or months to become apparent. Sometimes parents or health professionals notice that their baby’s head seems to have an altered shape with part of it appearing to be flat. If the flattening is severe enough, there can be asymmetry in the face and forehead with and one ear further forward than the other. There are a number of medical terms for this, including plagiocephaly, brachycephaly or scaphocephaly. Here we will discuss what causes flat head in babies.

There are many different issues that can cause a flat head in babies, but they all stem from the fact that babies are born with soft skulls. Before a baby is born, the bone structure is not firm, but has to be soft and flexible to allow the head to descend through the birth canal. The bone plates in the head are not fused, but are held together with cranial sutures, which are essentially elastic tissues which need to be flexible to allow the brain to grow. Because the bones don’t fuse until the baby is a toddler, it means that the shape of the baby’s skull can be affected by a number of factors.

For example, the way that babies lay in the womb can affect their skull shape. This is especially the case with multiple births where there is less room for babies to move around. It is the same for babies when there is not much amniotic fluid in the womb. Because the skull strengthens considerably in the last few weeks of pregnancy as mineralisation occurs, premature babies tend to have much softer skulls which are more prone to becoming misshapen.

However, flat head syndrome most commonly occurs because of the baby’s sleeping position. This can be due to the very good advice to put babies to sleep on their backs or it can be due to a tight neck muscle on one side, called torticollis. The excellent ‘Back to Sleep’ advice has radically reduced instances of cot death. However, if the baby is positioned on their back for too long either in a cot, on the floor or on a firm baby carrier can result in the development of flat head syndrome. In mild cases, this will probably correct without clinical intervention and up to the age of four months it’s best to treat all babies simply through repositioning techniques. For example, babies can be encouraged to move their head by relocating mobiles and toys.

During the day when they are awake and parents are with them, it’s a good idea to place babies on their tummy which relieves pressure on the affected flattened part. Tummy time is a great form of exercise for your child and allows them to develop muscles in the hips and spinal extensors.

If you don’t see an improvement in your baby’s head shape after a month, it is best to seek advice from a medical professional who can suggest other possible interventions. These can include physiotherapy to increase the range of movement through to specialised bespoke helmets which will use normal growth to gently reshape the skull.

These helmets gently help the skull reform into the correct shape as the baby’s head continues to grow and fuse. The helmets are custom-made so that they fit each child perfectly and they are lined with soft foam to keep the babies comfortable. Babies are also reviewed regularly to ensure that they are responding properly to treatment.

In many cases, flat head syndrome can be corrected by repositioning, but more severe cases may need further intervention. It is important to realise that babies’ the growth needed to bring about correction is minimal when they reach about eighteen months, so it’s important not to delay seeking advice.

Plagiocephaly Infographic

Parents often ask us what can be done to minimise plagiocephaly. So to help and to use as an education tool, we have produced a Plagiocephaly Infographic to explain how plagiocephaly develops and what should be done to minimise and treat the condition. We are sure that parents and clinicians will find it useful.

Plagiocephaly Infographic Childers Head Shape & Size Technology In Motion TiM

How to Recognise Signs and Symptoms of Plagiocephaly and/or Torticollis

Symptoms of Flat Head Syndrome

When your baby was only a few weeks old, you first noticed how he seemed to cock his head whenever he looked at you. When you watched him in other situations, you realised this was his customary posture. When you tried gently to move his head away from his shoulder, he cried as though you were causing him pain.
Looking back at your photo’s you notice that his head is always in the same position and he doesn’t seem to turn to the other side much. Here we discuss recognising the symptoms of Plagiocephaly.

Does this sound familiar? Your baby may suffer from what doctors call muscular torticollis or wryneck, a condition caused by spasms in the sternocleidomastoid muscle of the neck that cause the muscle on one side to contract. An infant or child with this condition appears to be tilting her head to one side while rotating his or her chin in the opposite direction. If you have witnessed any of these symptoms or suspect that your child may be affected by torticollis, it is advisable to seek medical help to confirm the diagnosis. Paediatricians estimate that up to 2 per cent of all infants may suffer from some degree of torticollis.

Sternocleidomastoid contracture is often the result of intrauterine positioning or a traumatic birth. When a baby is crowded so tightly into the uterus that he or she can’t move, contractures may develop and range of motion may be affected. Babies who are delivered with forceps, breach babies and multiples are all at higher risk of developing this condition. Torticollis is also rarely associated with infections and cervical abnormalities which your paediatrician will need to rule out before treatment can begin.

Untreated, torticollis can give rise to a host of problems in later life including facial and muscular asymmetry, visual disturbances, a delay in acquiring gross motor skills, and plagiocephaly or flat head syndrome, a persistent flat spot on your baby’s head.

While not every infant who shows signs and symptoms of plagiocephaly has problems with neck muscles, most infants with problematic neck muscles do go on to develop plagiocephaly because of their inability to move their heads. When your baby has flat head syndrome, you will notice that either the back or one side of her skull has sparser hair than the rest of his or her head, and that the underlying area appears to be flattened.

Flat head syndrome occurs when an infant spends too much time in one position. Infants’ heads are soft to facilitate the remarkable brain growth that takes place during the first two years of life. When one side of an infant’s head spends too much time resting against a flat surface, the skull can actually be moulded. Other causes of flat head syndrome include intrauterine positioning and spending too much time lying supine. When the Foundation for Sudden Infant Deaths (FSIDS)publicised guidelines to recommend that infants younger than one year old always be put to sleep on their backs, paediatricians saw a striking rise in plagiocephaly incidence.

The treatment for torticollis often involves physiotherapy. The therapist will work on exercises that gently stretch the sternocleidomastoid muscle to increase range of motion. Parents will be given a program of exercises that they can do with their baby at home.

Flat head syndrome can often be corrected by simply repositioning a baby’s head so that he or she is never lying on the flat spot. In severe cases, a custom-moulded helmet will improve the head towards a more normal and acceptable shape.

How to Treat Baby Flat Head

The Treatment for Flat Head Syndrome or Plagiocephaly

Plagiocephaly, commonly known as flat head syndrome, is the medical term for a condition that affects as many as two out of every ten babies. Flat head syndrome develops when a baby repeatedly lies in the same position. This can occur when parents aren’t aware that they need to change an infant’s position during the day or because of problems with neck muscles. An infant’s skull is so soft that flat surfaces can actually mould the shape of an infant’s head. Since 1992 when the American Paediatric Society began recommending that infants sleep on their backs to prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), paediatricians have seen a six-fold increase in flat head syndrome. This experience is reflected in the UK since this advice was adopted. Babies must always be placed on their backs to sleep and this has saved thousands of lives. During the day when they’re awake and Mum is with them, babies should be placed on their tummies and pressure relieved from the back of the head.

Plagiocephaly may be associated with brachycephaly, a type of flat head syndrome where the head shape is very wide and the flattening appears across the back of the head. With brachycephaly, the back of an infant’s head flattens uniformly, causing the crown to be wider and taller while the distance between temples and chin may be longer. Brachycephaly is also classified as flat head syndrome, and responds to many of the same interventions.

Parents are usually the first to be aware of flat head syndrome. They may notice a flat spot on the back or side of their infant’s head where hair growth is noticeably sparser. Their baby’s ears may not be symmetrically aligned or some other facial asymmetry may be present. When torticollis, a tight neck muscle is a factor, a baby’s head may appear to be tilted to one side the much of the time.

In the vast majority of cases, plagiocephaly caused by a restrictive sleeping position responds to simple therapies. Yet the diagnosis itself can be so intimidating that some parents may be frightened of interacting with their babies in a normal way that includes tummy time and playing to relieve pressure on the flat spot. A baby with a flat head is no more fragile than any other baby.

Repositioning techniques are the best intervention for simple flat head syndrome. You’ll want to position your baby in his or her crib so that the affected side is not lying flat. When your baby is lying down, encourage active turning of the head by hanging a mobile or some other bright object where the baby will want to look at it. Limit the time your child spends in car seats, carriers and pushchairs with flat backboards that press up against his or her head. When holding, feeding, or carrying your baby make sure to reposition so that the flat spot is not pressing against you. Slings and other baby carriers which position your baby’s face towards your body benefit a baby with a flat head by decreasing the amount of time spent with pressure to the back of the head.

Some parents misinterpret the Foundation for Sudden Infant Death (FSID) guidelines to mean a baby should never be placed on the tummy. This is simply not the case. Supervised tummy time is good for your baby. Tummy time helps babies develop control of their head and neck muscles and overall hip and spine development, it also encourages bonding, particularly if you are comfortable enough to get down and interact. Try putting your baby’s rattle and toys just out of reach so he or she is encouraged to reach for them.

More severe cases of flat head syndrome may require physiotherapy and/or a corrective helmet. If your interventions don’t seem to be working, research the alternatives which will be able to help.

TiMband Treatment for Plagiocephaly


PlagioCare treatment now known as TiMband

PlagioCare treatment will now be known in the UK and Ireland as the TiMband.

PlagioCare has been in existence for three years and has successfuly treated thousands of infants in the UK and Europe.

We believe it is the best plagiocephaly or flat head syndrome treatment system available due to its rapid results, lightweight helmet style, brilliant child friendly photographic scanner and final verification of treatment for all parents with before and after scans with software to review at home. The treatment is exactly the same, it’s only the name that is changing.