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Torticollis: What is it? How can I treat it?

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People of all shapes, sizes, and ages can benefit from physical therapy.  It’s not uncommon for an infant to be seen in the Center for Physical Rehabilitation’s clinic.  People often stop in their tracks to catch a glimpse of a cute baby, followed up with the question, “You treat babies, too?” The answer is yes.  One of several reasons a baby may be seen for physical therapy is torticollis. 


Torticollis, a symptom rather than distinct disease process, describes the position of an infant’s head.  The name comes from the Latin word tortus meaning twisted + collis meaning neck or collar.  In torticollis, the position of the infant’s head is tilted to the involved site with a rotation toward the opposite shoulder.  The sternocleidomastroid (SCM) is a neck muscle that moves the head into a tilt and opposite rotation and is often affected in torticollis.  The incidence of torticollis in babies has been increasing in past years.



The cause of torticollis is unknown.  Theories include a crowded position in the womb and/or a decreased blood supply or trauma to the SCM muscle prior to birth. After birth, torticollis may be caused by positional preferences, such as the infant spending too much time with their head turned one particular way.  Torticollis may be a result of muscular, skeletal, neurological, or visual conditions; the below focuses on muscular torticollis.

Torticollis needs to be addressed for several reasons.  If ignored, it can impact an infant's development of vision, sensory processing, feeding, and fine and gross motor skills.

Examples may include:

  • Decreased head control
  • Limited visual tracking
  • Delayed sitting
  • Asymmetrical crawling
  • Delayed walking
  • Poor balance
  • Difficulty feeding

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Running Transitions for Spring

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As the weather gradually warms and the snow begins to melt, runners stray away from their treadmills and flock to the sidewalks and trails. While the fresh air may feel great during your run outdoors, our bodies may not be prepared for the transition. Unfortunately, running on the treadmill does not adequately prepare us for a run outdoors. Here are some facts to be aware of as you begin your outdoor training.

The first difference to be aware of in your transition from the treadmill to the outdoors is the variance in terrain. Obviously, while running on a treadmill, there is little worry of running into obstacles during your run. However, while running outdoors, there are many terrain variances to be aware of including the following:

  • Hills demanding increased exertion
  • Ice and snow patches during the early spring months
  • Uneven ground if running on trails

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Sudden Deaths In Athletes

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While sudden cardiac death in athletes has become a popular topic in the news, it is not the only cause for sudden death in athletes.  Sudden cardiac deaths in NCAA athletes account for 16% of deaths, which is a small number in reality.  Due to the uncertainty and the nature of sudden cardiac deaths, we are left with a lot of unanswered questions.  This is why when a death caused by a sudden cardiac event occurs; the media tends to be quick to report about it.

The most common causes of sudden cardiac death include genetic/congenital anomaly, myocarditis, commotio cordis, and coronary artery disease.  The most prevalent cardiac condition in the United States is reported to be Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.  Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) affects 1/500 people and is the thickening of the myocardium causing stiffness in the left ventricle, mitral valve changes and cellular disorganization.  Signs and symptoms of HCM include chest pain with activity, shortness of breath, fatigue with exertion, syncope (fainting), chest palpitations and sudden death.

kneeTwo orthopedic surgeons at the Belgian University Hospitals Leuven have announced that they have found a new knee ligament. Dr. Steven Claes and Dr. Johann Bellemans and their associates have worked diligently to give a full anatomical depiction of the new ligament that they term the anterolateral ligament (ALL).

Due to its origin and insertion points, they propose that the ALL controls rotation of the tibia; therefore, when someone
sustains an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear, they are most likely damaging the ALL as well. In spite of a successful ACL repair and rehabilitation, some patients still experience the so-called “pivot shift” or episodes of the knee “giving out” during activity. Researchers are in the process of concluding that those sensations are due to injuring the ALL.

After researching for the last 4 years as to why some ACL repairs were still getting the “buckling” or “giving out” sensation, these specialists gathered 41 knee joints from human cadavers and began dissecting them. Results concluded that this fibrous band originates on the outside (lateral) aspect of the femur and inserts at the lateral aspect of the tibia, which leads specialists to agree that this ligament must stabilize the outer part of the knee, preventing it from collapsing inward. All but one of the knees dissected had the presence of the ALL. They suspect that the knee with the missing ALL, possibly ruptured and withered at some point.

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