What is Hypotonia?
Hypotonia is the term used to describe low muscle tone. Muscle tone is the ability of the muscle to respond to stretch. When a child has low muscle tone, his muscles contract slowly and are unable to maintain a static, normal muscle contraction. Because these low tone muscles do not fully contract, they remain somewhat stretchy and loose, resulting in the child appearing “floppy.” This may cause difficulties with fine and gross motor coordination, difficulty with sitting at a desk, and problems participating in daily activities.
What causes Hypotonia?
Every muscle has receptors that detect change in muscle length. These receptors send a message to the brain and the brain tells the muscle to contract in response to the stimulation. A delay in perceiving muscle stretch, decoding the information in the brain, or problems sending the information back to the muscle can result in hypotonia.
How do I help treat my child’s Hypotonia?
Physical therapists and/or occupational therapists help treat hypotonia. Since muscle tone is an involuntary response, changes in muscle responses can be made through sensory integration treatment techniques that increase the “alertness” of the muscle by bombarding it with sensory information. This improves the brain’s ability to perceive changes in muscle length and helps with the process of sending the message to the brain to initiate a contraction. With ongoing treatment and daily practice, those responses can be elicited more often and low tone muscles can become more efficient.
Our approach at North Shore Pediatric Therapy
At North Shore Pediatric Therapy, our multisensory approach provides your child sensory and motor experiences which help improve his muscle tone, responses to sensory input and body awareness. Our therapists engage your child in various activities that incorporate movement, tactile, visual, and auditory sensations to enhance muscle tone. In addition, our therapists are trained to provide environmental adaptations to assist your child to be more successful in activities throughout the day.