Let me start off by introducing myself. I’m Caitlin Heckenliable and I’m a first time mom. My son, Ian, was born on Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 at 11:38 PM. He was born a healthy baby.
I’ll skip forward to Ian’s 2-month doctor’s appointment. His pediatrician was turning his head to each side. Turning his head to the right went without a hitch, but when it came to turning his head to the left, it just didn’t seem to want to go all the way. The pediatrician said he had the beginning of something called torticollis and prescribed us pediatric physical therapy.
KidsHealth.org describes infant torticollis, or wryneck, as a tilted head or a baby’s difficulty in turning his or her neck.
The term in Latin literally translates to “twisted neck”.
It’s actually quite common in newborns, both boys and girls, and can be present at birth or it can take up to 3 months to develop. Doctors believe that abnormal positioning or cramping of the fetus in utero, may be to blame, or the result of a difficult childbirth. Luckily though, most babies don’t feel any pain due to this twisted diagnosis.
Ian began physical therapy at Cutting Edge Physical Therapy when he was three months old. One of the youngest patients the clinic has treated. After initially being evaluated by Cheryl, he then began treatments with Kara.
The first couple of visits were hard. Ian would cry at the slightest touch on the right side of his neck, where the tightest muscles were. And being just an infant, he could only go so long in treatment before he was tired and had to stop. Kara had to be quick in the stretches she did, but gentle as to not overdo what Ian could handle. She also taught me exercises that I could do with Ian at home to help keep the progress going.
As time went by, and Ian grew bigger, his torticollis improved. He was able to handle the neck stretches Kara was helping him do, though he still had his rough spots, especially when she worked on the deeper muscles in his scapula. Kara was also so creative. Trying to keep an infant entertained while he has to go through physical therapy can be a tough job, but she came up with this way of carrying Ian around, so not only was she stretching him and making him work out his neck muscles, but she was giving him a change of much-needed scenery. It even got to the point where he would finally be so comfortable he would fall asleep in his neck stretch.
But torticollis may sometimes lead to other complications. Due to Ian’s inability to comfortably turn his head to the left for so long, he developed something called plagiocephaly.
Plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome, is where a baby’s head develops a flat spot or is misshapen.
Because Ian would always lay on his back and look to the right, he developed a flat spot on the back right side of his head. Unfortunately, physical therapy can’t fix plagiocephaly, only a helmet could do that. But physical therapy could help the cause of his plagiocephaly.
So, after Ian began sporting his new accessory, we continued on with physical therapy, in hopes to resolve his torticollis. Each visit got easier and easier, his movement improved, the muscles less tight.
Finally, we came to a point where Ian’s neck muscles were staying loose. Our insurance, as with most insurances, gave Ian a limited number of visits that would be covered. As we were reaching our cap, Ian was now able to turn his head all the way. We finished with physical therapy, and Kara sent us on our way with exercises to help keep his neck strong and stretched. As strange as it is to say, he became a different baby!
Thanks to Kara and Cheryl, Ian beat his torticollis!
I’m so grateful for Kara and Cheryl and all that they did for Ian. With him being just a baby, I was worried about how physical therapy would impact him. But Kara and Cheryl took such great care of him and worked with him as if he was their own family.
Ian is now almost 10 months old and you would never have guessed that he had physical therapy or a helmet. So shout out to Cutting Edge Physical Therapy and their amazing work!