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About Hypotonia

What is hypotonia?

Hypotonia, also known as Low Muscle Tone is often associated with feeling of heaviness or floppiness, at the child’s limb and/or core muscles. The muscles do not seem to have the stabilization to support the joints well. Muscle tone refers to how tense a muscle is at rest. Muscle tone is controlled by the brain, and in turn, the brain uses information from muscles to adjust posture, position in space, and movement.

Will low muscle tone affect my child’s development?

Babies and children need to have control of their heads and trunk (core). This provides a stable base for the arms and legs to work. In some children low muscle tome will impact developmental milestones such as reaching, crawling, moving place to place, and onset of walking.

What is the difference between tone and strength?

Tone is the resting state of muscle contraction and is assessed when the muscle is relaxed or passively moved through space. Strength is a measure of how many fibers within the muscle are working to produce a forcible contraction. Often, strength increases as more muscles are called upon to work/contract. Strength is affected by how much effort the child puts into the movement.

Will strengthening activities improve muscle tone?

Strengthening will help the joints be more stable, especially at the hips and shoulders. While strengthening exercises and activity practices may not change underlying tone, it does compensate for the effects of low muscle tone.

What are the causes of hypotonia?

Hypotonia is a symptom rather than a condition. To function, muscles depend on signals from motor nerves. The signals can get disrupted at the level of the brain and spinal cord (central hypotonia) or a result of nerve connectivity issues between the spinal cord and the muscles. (peripheral hypotonia). There are neurological and non-neurological conditions that cause hypotonia. Your pediatrician will help delineate a cause if any, through the history and physical examination

Will physical therapy help my child with hypotonia?

Specific strengthening exercises and activities designed for the individual child can assist with achievement of developmental milestones. Weakness, problems with mobility, coordination, sensory issues, and balance difficulties are common with certain conditions and with hypotonia. 


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