An infant/ toddler with low muscle tone demonstrates muscle groups that are weaker and softer than normal. The weak muscles are either in the arms, legs and/or trunk, and often results in developmental delay. This challenge is not caused by anything in particular but has been linked to conditions involving the central nervous system, muscle disorders, and genetic disorders. A few common causes are Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy. Physical therapy can help improve strength, gain joint and postural stability, and ensure that your infant/ toddler does not fall behind. A tailored exercise program is guaranteed to help your infant/ toddler accomplish appropriate motor milestones.Infants and toddlers that exhibit low muscle tone generally fall behind in their motor skills and milestones because of muscle weakness and insufficient posture or joint stability.
What is low muscle tone?
A condition when specific muscle groups in your baby’s body are softer and weaker than they should be.
What causes low muscle tone?
There is no obvious cause but has been linked to conditions involving the central nervous system, muscle disorders, and genetic disorders. A few common causes are Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy.
What are the symptoms?
When handling your baby, you may feel that he/she is ‘floppy’ in comparison to other babies. He/she may feel too flexible especially in their arms and legs. When lifting them up with your hands under their arm pits, babies with low muscle tone will not keep their arms stable as you lift them, but will let their arms rise up, providing no resistance, thus feeling like they are going to slip through your fingers. A baby with low muscle tone may also have trouble with breast feeding compared to bottle feeding because of the extra effort required. Delays in milestones are also seen: not rolling, crawling, sitting, pulling self to stand, cruising or walking when expected.
How is it treated?
Physical therapy is the best course of treatment, to help improve muscle strength and stability. A daily on-going physical exercise program is also important to help reach physical milestones. A skilled physical therapist will determine safe and effective exercises for your baby/ toddler and will work with you to progress him/her through age appropriate motor skills. Occupational therapy may be needed if fine motor skills are delayed.