Congenital Muscular Torticollis

What is it?

Congenital Muscular Torticollis (CMT) is a term used for a situation in which an infant has a tightening in their neck muscles, primarily on one side. This will cause them to often have their head rotated and tilted to one side, and is most easily seen when your baby is lying in their crib or in their stroller.


What causes it?

While doctors aren’t 100% sure what causes CMT, there are several factors that may  redispose a baby to developing the condition. Babies born at higher birth weights and/or to more petite mothers, as well as multiple births are most at risk, due to crowding in the womb. However, these factors do not guarantee that a child will have CMT. In short, you have done nothing wrong, as these factors are usually outside of your control.

What should I do if I suspect my child might have CMT?

Ample amounts of tummy time are vital to helping your child minimize, or even prevent developing CMT. Current recommendations advise a total of one hour of tummy time, broken up throughout the day. Younger infants might only be able to tolerate a few minutes before getting tired, but frequent practice will quickly help a child develop a stronger neck.

If you’re concerned that your child might have a preference with which side they turn to, you should talk to your child’s pediatrician and follow up with a trained physical therapist. Early intervention is the best step to prevent the problem from getting worse.


What does physical therapy for CMT involve?
At Brill Physical Therapy, we are trained to treat infants with CMT. Your first session will be comprised of a comprehensive evaluation to determine your child’s individual needs. Sessions usually include a combination of stretching and massaging tight muscles, as well as positioning exercises to help your child get stronger. All families receive a home program to make sure all parents and caregivers are comfortable performing necessary exercises at home. Earlier treatment usually results in shorter treatment times, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns!