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Hypotonia in Children: This is What You Need to Know About Low Muscle Tone

Hypotonia in Children: This is What You Need to Know About Low Muscle Tone

Is your baby having a tough time holding up his head? Is your child having difficulty speaking? Have you noticed your child slumps or has difficulty handling small objects like pencils and crayons? Hypotonia, or low muscle tone, could be the root cause of all of these symptoms.

Hypotonia refers to decreased muscle tone, and with low muscle tone, the muscles lack the tension and rigidity that’s normally there. Low muscle tone can interfere with many aspects of your child’s life, delaying the development of motor skills, causing speech challenges, or causing difficulties succeeding in school.

Here’s a closer look at how hypotonia affects children, hypotonia treatment options, and signs you need to consider low muscle tone therapy for children.

Hypotonia in Children: How it Affects Gross and Fine Motor Skills

Hypotonia often causes delays in gross motor skills and difficulty mastering fine motor skills. Without the proper tension and rigidity in muscles, children may be slow to develop the gross motor skills that allow them to sit up straight without falling over. Crawling, walking, running, and jumping may all be delayed. Children may also become overly fatigued when they do perform gross motor skills.

Fine motor skills, such as grasping toys or crayons, feeding themselves, pointing to objects, and moving items from one hand to the other may also be delayed in children with low muscle tone.

Low Muscle Tone and Speech Production

Both speech and breathing are affected by low muscle tone. Muscles in the mouth and face are used to create sounds, and while children with hypotonia usually have no difficulty understanding, they often have difficulty using expressive language skills. Therapy that focuses on the muscles used for speech can help children overcome the speech challenges that come with hypotonia.

Hypotonia and Success in School

Muscles are everywhere, and when they don’t work properly, normal activities become far more taxing. Hypotonia in children creates many difficulties that make it harder to succeed in the classroom. Low muscle tone in the core can affect posture, making it difficult for children to sit up attentively in class.

Problems with fine motor skills and dexterity can result in poor handwriting and difficulty accomplishing many tasks in a classroom environment. When some everyday tasks become a constant struggle, many kids simply give up in school resulting in poor grades or poor behavior in the classroom.

Hypotonia in Children: This is What You Need to Know About Low Muscle Tone

Signs of Low Muscle Tone in My Child – When Do I Need Hypotonia Therapy for My Child

Some of the common signs of low muscle tone in a child may include:

  • Slouching while sitting in a chair
  • Difficulty holding up their head while sitting at a desk
  • Propping their head on hands or laying their head down on the desk
  • Problems standing for long periods
  • Sitting in a ‘W’ position – legs splayed out to the side and backward in a ‘W’ shape
  • Increased flexibility, which increases the risk of injury
  • Avoiding chewy foods
  • Preference for sedentary activities
  • Fatigues quickly or gives up easily
  • Late achieving major milestones, particularly those involving gross motor skills
  • Difficulties with fine motor skills like writing or coloring
  • Poor core stability

Low Muscle Tone in Children – Treatment Options

Hypotonia in Children: This is What You Need to Know About Low Muscle Tone

Several different hypotonia treatment options are available, and it’s common for multiple therapies to be used together to address low muscle tone. Therapies include:

  • Physical Therapy– Physical therapy can be used to improve muscle tone and aims to:
    • Strengthen muscles around joints to improve support and stability
    • Improve coordination
    • Improve posture
  • Occupational Therapy– Occupational therapy teaches skills needed for day-to-day activities. For example, therapists may focus on fine finger skills to improve dressing, writing, and feeding.
  • Speech and Language Therapy– Speech therapy addresses problems with swallowing, feeding, and speaking. This therapy focuses on improving control of the mouth and jaw muscles.

The Takeaways:

  • Hypotonia affects both fine and gross motor skills
  • Low muscle tone may cause speech difficulties
  • Hypotonia is often the cause of handwriting, posture, and dexterity problems that make it harder for children to succeed in school
  • If you notice the signs of low muscle tone in your child, have your child evaluated.
  • Physical, speech and occupational therapies may all prove helpful for children with hypotonia

Infinite Therapy Solutions offers physical, occupational, and speech therapies in one convenient location and specializes in low muscle tone therapy for children. Contact us today to talk to one of our experts in hypotonia and to learn more about how we can help your child.