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Low Muscle Tone (Hypotonia) : What You Need to Know



You may have heard of Low Muscle Tone, Weak Muscle Tone or Floppy Baby Syndrome, but many people don’t know that the scientific name for it is Hypotonia and it is a disorder which refers to a decreased level of tone in your child’s muscles.


Muscle tone and this disorder in general are a spectrum; meaning that each child is impacted differently. For some children it can just be a mild burden, but for some it can be a debilitating obstacle that has a monumental impact on a child’s day to day life.


What are some common misconceptions of Hypotonia?


Hypotonia is not the same thing as muscle weakness, meaning a strong child can still have low muscle tone. The difference between muscle tone and muscle strength is quite simple. Muscle tone is the level of tension that is in muscles at rest while muscle strength is the amount of force muscles are able to exert against resistance.

Hypotonia is also not a temporary disease, meaning if your child is diagnosed with it, he/she will carry it with them into adulthood. Because this disorder is lifelong, it is IMPERATIVE to get treatment at a young age.

Also note that Hypotonia is not laziness. Low Muscle Tone is an exhausting and physical limitation that is not beaten by “working harder”. Be sure to acknowledge your child’s limitations and convey your emotions in a positive way. At Team Esteem we aim to help parents communicate with their children better by using healthy expressions of anger and other emotions.

“There is zero correlation between IQ and emotional empathy... They're controlled by different parts of the brain.” -- Daniel Goleman

What are the Symptoms of Low Muscle Tone (Hypotonia)?


The most common signs of Hypotonia include:

  • Clumsiness

  • Difficulty Getting Up

  • Unusually High Degree of Flexibility

  • Poor Head Control

  • Pronation (more weight bearing on the inner portion of the foot)

  • Impaired Mobility

  • Poor Posture

  • Ligament and Joint Laxity

  • Poor Reflexes

  • Delayed Speech

  • Walking with Wide Base

  • Delayed Gross Motor Skills Development (crawling, walking, jumping)

  • Delayed Fine Motor Skills (grabbing, moving objects)


What Causes Hypotonia?


There are MANY different explanations as to why your child could have low muscle tone and there have been over 600 conditions linked to the disorder. The most common causes of Hypotonia are related to problems with the Nervous System and/or muscular system such as Cerebral Palsy and Muscular Dystrophy. It could also be the result of an injury, illness, or even an inherited disorder such as Down Syndrome, Prader-Willi Syndrome, and Tay-Sachs Disease. There are also times where a child can have Hypotonia without a preexisting condition; this is called Benign Congenital Hypotonia.


What are the Treatment Options for Hypotonia?


Therapy is the best option for treating Hypotonia. Slowly introducing your child to Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, and if their condition is more serious, Assisted Breathing, and Feeding Interventions. Although this all can be overwhelming to start, it is extremely important that treatment for this disorder begins young as the muscles are beginning to develop. The very first step would be to get your child into Physio/Physical Therapy and slowly integrate other practices as needed in your child’s development


How does low muscle tone affect behavior?


Get with Jamie if you need help answering this.



Team Esteem is here for you as you begin this journey with your child and we strive to help you bridge the gap between all of these different therapists, school teachers, and home life. Schedule your free consultation here to see how we can best support you and your child.




References:

Aculbertson. (2016, December 1). Low muscle tone and your child - what you need to know. Retrieved March 18, 2021, from https://surestep.net/blog/low-muscle-tone-hypotonia-an-overview-for-parents/

Hypotonia information page. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2021, from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Hypotonia-Information-Page

Roddick, J., & Minnis, G., PTD. (2019, September 27). What is Hypotonia. Retrieved March 17, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/hypotonia