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Addressing Low Muscle Tone Concerns
By Callie Lodico

Callie Lodico Does your child have poor head control when moving to a sitting position? Do they feel as though they slip through your arms when you pick them up vs hold their shoulders firmly?

While there may be many contributing factors, a number of behaviors noted above may be something that is termed low muscle tone or hypotonia. Hypotonia is a symptom which is observed and affects the way an individual moves.  It is often mistaken for a diagnosis. It describes the way in which a muscle may not have the amount of tension or resistance to stretch that is seen typically.    Often these symptoms may be due to an underlying cause that can be addressed very effectively with Early Intervention. "We see children with low muscle tone  usually around 15 months, however it can be as early as 3 months when a parent or physician recognizes the lack of tension in a child's muscle is less than ideal, " notes Callie  Lodico, a teli  Physical Therapist. 

The most notable areas of the body to see the effects of low muscle tone are in the core, arms and legs, but it can also affect a child's ability to latch on and suck from a bottle or breast.  Another potential impact may be excessive drooling because the child may have difficulty with lip closure.

"Movement is essential and often the core muscle strength is a key place to start dependent on the child's needs, "says Callie.  "We might begin with the child balancing on a ball with support to practice head control and then move to sitting on the ball to build core abdominal strength. From there we work to have them manage more weight on their feet if flat feet or fallen arches are problem.

While each child is different in the progress that is made and parents and children will both experience struggles and challenges, recognizing the small victories is very important since every child's timeline is different, "reflects Callie. " Our goal is help them achieve their potential and reach that level in their own individual time."

Callie Lodico is a physical therapist with The Early Learning Institute (teli). Learn more about her and teli by visiting the website at www.telipa.org.

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