What is Hypotonia?
Hypotonia literally means low muscle tone.
What are the signs of hypotonia?
Babies with hypotonia will:
- Have poor control of their neck muscles, so it can be hard for them to hold their heads up.
- Feel limp / floppy when held, as though they could easily slip through your hands.
- Be unable to support weight through their legs or arms.
- Tend to hold their arms and legs straight at their sides or in a “frog posture” rather than holding their limbs against gravity.
- Find sucking and swallowing difficult.
- Have a weak cry.
As a child gets older you may notice these signs:
- General weakness and flaccidity (floppiness) of the muscles.
- Hypermobility of joints.
- Poor head control and difficulty holding head up for long periods of time.
- Reluctance to lie on their tummy or crawl. They may ‘bottom shuffle’ rather than crawl.
- Developmental delay/difficulty keeping up with their peer group with PE/games activities.
- Drooling and speech difficulties, maybe a quiet voice.
When to seek help?
The majority of children with hypotonia do not have a severe underlying problem, but if you suspect that your child is hypotonic, it is important to get an assessment from a doctor to rule out any serious conditions.
Benign Congenital Hypotonia (BCH), Congenital Hypotonia, Congenital Muscle Hypotonia, Congenital Muscle Weakness and Amyotonia Congenita are all names for "a harmless case of poor muscle tone since birth".
How can physiotherapy help?
- Babies need extra stimulation to use their muscles in the right way and progress their development.
- Older children need exercises and activities to improve their posture, muscle strength and coordination.
KidsPhysio can provide advice and monitoring or regular treatment depending on your and your child’s needs. Your physiotherapist will design a programme that includes a range of exercises and activities to integrate into your daily routine and everyday activities, both at home and at school.