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Torticollis is a condition in which a baby’s neck can become tight and shortened on one side, resulting in the baby keeping his or her head tilted to one side and often turned to the opposite side. It can sometimes lead to a condition called plagiocephaly, or a misshapen skull. Plagiocephaly usually results in flattening of the skull on the sides or back of the head and can also cause one ear to shift forward and one side of the forehead to push forward.  Typical signs of torticollis include: 

  • Keeps head tilted to one side, or ear closer to shoulder on one side

  • Strongly prefers turning head to one side over the other

  • Prefers feeding on only one side or facing one direction

  • Difficulty visually tracking a toy to both sides

  • Face seems asymmetrical (one side of cheek is fuller than the other, one eye may appear lower)

  • Flattening on one side or back of head

Early treatment of torticollis and plagiocephaly is ideal.  It is easiest to work with young babies, who are not as mobile, because there is more opportunity to make changes in alignment and skull shape with positioning alone.  In more severe cases of skull flattening that are not resolved with positioning, a referral for an evaluation to see if your baby needs a helmet may be recommended.  Early therapy may result in not needing a helmet!

Torticollis and plagiocephaly: About
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