Muscles are there to support us much more than we realize. From break dancing to sipping coffee, our muscles take us where we want to go. Kiddos who deal with hypotonia, or low muscle tone, face difficulties with everyday movements. The earlier that hypotonia is caught by mom or dad, the easier it will be to help a child improve. We want to make sure parents know what to look out for and how to help their kiddo reach their highest potential for movement.
Fun fact: Muscles hold a certain amount of tension, even at rest. This brings us to better define hypotonia. It may sound like a big word, but it really just refers to low muscle tone. Try not to get it confused with muscle weakness, although both can exist at the same time. Muscle weakness refers to the strength of a muscle while muscle tone is tension and stiffness as the muscles resist movement. A child with low muscle tone would appear “floppy” or limp when you picked them up, unlike a child who only has weakened muscles.
Keep in mind that hypotonia is a symptom of an underlying condition such as cerebral palsy or premature birth. Hypotonia also differs from individual to individual. Some may have mild symptoms while others are more severe. With low muscle tone, it can become much harder to execute day-to-day movements. As a parent, you’ll want to watch out for certain signs as catching hypotonia early is always best in the long run.
Mom and Dad on the Look Out!
We know that parents watch their little ones closely, so we’ll give you a snapshot of what to look out for when it comes to hypotonia. You may notice poor head control, issues with feeding, and delays with early motor skills and speech. As we mentioned, low muscle tone can also make your kiddo appear “floppy,” or limp. In fact, a parent caring for an infant with hypotonia might feel like their little one is about to slip right through their hands!
What’s more, it can be challenging for them to keep knees and elbows bent, maintain a straight posture, and get their muscles moving effectively. You may also notice abnormal flexibility too. Your kiddo may move in ways that look terribly uncomfortable to you, but they seem to be unaware that it’s out-of-place. If you’re noticing any of these signs, it’s time to speak up!
Getting Back on Track
With a little help from folks like us, a kiddo with hypotonia can dramatically improve. Generally, therapists will step in to improve and support muscle function once the underlying condition has been identified. A physical therapist will focus on improving posture, coordination, and strengthening surrounding muscles with specific exercises. Ultimately, your kiddo will increase overall support and stability.
An occupational therapist can help enhance hand and finger movement as well as provide ways to improve with daily activities such as getting dressed in the morning. Kiddos with feeding issues will greatly benefit from feeding therapy as well.
When it comes to treating hypotonia, it’s imperative to reach out. Professionals may not always be able to “cure” hypotonia, but the symptom can greatly improve, allowing your kiddo to have a much higher quality of life. All kiddos deserve to take on their days with their best moves and grooves.
We’re here if you’re noticing low muscle tone with your little one. We’re always grateful to set kiddos up for success!