Congenital Torticollis: Exercises

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Your Care Instructions

Here are some examples of exercises for torticollis that you can do for your baby. Do them gently and slowly.

These are general instructions. Your doctor or a physiotherapist will tell you when you can start these exercises, how to do them, and which ones will work best for your baby.

Do the exercises several times each day. For example, some people do them at each diaper change.

It can be hard to do exercises with a baby. Your baby may move and squirm or cry. But doing them may help the baby get better. If you are unsure how to do the exercises or think you are hurting your baby, talk to your doctor.

How to do the exercises

For all of these exercises, place your baby on his or her back on a changing table or a carpeted floor. You can also do them with your baby seated on your lap.

Be sure you hold your baby's shoulders steady while moving the head away from its usual position. For example, if the head is turned to the left, you can gently rotate the head to the right. And if the head is tilted toward the right shoulder, you can gently tilt it toward the left shoulder. Never move your baby's head past the point where the chin is above the shoulder.

Stretching, head points to the right, chin to the left

Torticollis stretch
slide 1 of 2
slide 1 of 2, Stretching, head points to the right, chin to the left,

If your baby's head tilts to his or her right and chin to the left:

  1. Place one hand on your baby's right shoulder. This holds the shoulder down.
  2. Put your other hand on top of your baby's head.
  3. Gently and slowly bend your baby's head toward his or her left shoulder. See the next picture.

Stretching, continued

Torticollis stretch
slide 2 of 2
slide 2 of 2, Stretching, continued,
  1. Your baby's head is now farther to the left. Try to hold the position for at least 2 seconds. Then slowly let the head return to its resting position.
  2. Repeat this 2 to 3 times.

If your baby is sitting in your lap, face him or her away from you. Hold the shoulders steady by putting one of your arms across both of the baby's shoulders and holding the baby against your body. Make the same movements as described in the two pictures above.

Rotation, head points to the right, chin to the left

Torticollis rotation
slide 1 of 2
slide 1 of 2, Rotation, head points to the right, chin to the left,

If your baby's head tilts to his or her right and chin to the left:

  1. Put one hand on your baby's left shoulder. This holds the shoulder down.
  2. Put your other hand across the left side of your baby's face (from the forehead to the chin).
  3. Gently and slowly rotate your baby's face toward your baby's right shoulder. See the next picture.

Rotation, continued

Torticollis rotation
slide 2 of 2
slide 2 of 2, Rotation, continued,
  1. Your baby's face is now farther to the right. Try to hold the position for at least 2 seconds. Then slowly let the head return to its resting position.
  2. Repeat this 2 to 3 times.

If your baby is sitting in your lap, face him or her away from you. Hold the shoulders steady by putting one of your arms across both of the baby's shoulders and holding the baby against your body. Make the same movements as described in the two pictures above.

Stretching, head points to the left, chin to the right

Torticllis stretch
slide 1 of 2
slide 1 of 2, Stretching, head points to the left, chin to the right,

If your baby's head tilts to his or her left and chin to the right:

  1. Put one hand on your baby's left shoulder. This holds the shoulder down.
  2. Put the other hand on your baby's head.
  3. Gently and slowly bend your baby's head toward your baby's right shoulder. See the next picture.

Stretching, continued

Torticollis stretch
slide 2 of 2
slide 2 of 2, Stretching, continued,
  1. Your baby's head is now farther to the right. Try to hold the position for at least 2 seconds. Then slowly let the head return to its resting position.
  2. Repeat this 2 to 3 times.

If your baby is sitting in your lap, face him or her away from you. Hold the shoulders steady by putting one of your arms across both of the baby's shoulders and holding the baby against your body. Make the same movements as described in the two pictures above.

Rotation, head points to the left, chin to the right

Torticollis rotation
slide 1 of 2
slide 1 of 2, Rotation, head points to the left, chin to the right,

If your baby's head tilts to his or her left and chin to the right:

  1. Put one hand on your baby's right shoulder. This holds the shoulder down.
  2. Put your other hand across the right side of your baby's face (from the forehead to the chin).
  3. Gently and slowly rotate your baby's face toward his or her left shoulder. See the next picture.

Rotation, continued

Torticollis rotation
slide 2 of 2
slide 2 of 2, Rotation, continued,
  1. Your baby's face is now farther to the left. Try to hold the position for at least 2 seconds. Then slowly let the head return to its resting position.
  2. Repeat this 2 to 3 times.

If your baby is sitting in your lap, face him or her away from you. Hold the shoulders steady by putting one of your arms across both of the baby's shoulders and holding the baby against your body. Make the same movements as described in the two pictures above.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: May 23, 2016