Hypotonia is characterized by weak or floppy muscles that affect movement and posture. It is caused by disorders in the brain, nerves and muscles. Children with Down Syndrome, Fragile X-syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, Myotonic dystrophy, Spinal muscular atrophies, Myasthenia syndromes, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries, stroke, nerve injuries and diseases, congenital and metabolic syndromes may have hypotonia.

Associated symptoms

Infants with hypotonia may have:
  • Poor control of movement
  • Delayed movement of the arms, hands or legs
  • Weak movements
  • Limp posture
  • Lethargic appearance
  • Increased movement of joints
  • Poor stability when sitting or standing
  • Problems with vision
  • Failure to imitate facial gestures
  • Weak cry
  • Poor suck and swallow.

Children with hypotonia may have:

  • Weakness
  • Poor activity tolerance
  • Delayed movement skills
  • Rounded shoulders
  • “loose” joints
  • Increased flexibility
  • Poor attention and motivation

Description of rehab evaluation

Your child may need an evaluation with a physical, occupational or speech therapist depending on the symptoms of your child. The therapist will discuss your child’s family and medical history and current condition. The therapist will then examine your child, paying attention to the area of the body you are concerned about.

The physical therapist and occupational therapist will look at muscle strength and movement, joint movement, posture, balance, alignment of the arms and legs, reflexes, ability to sit, crawl, stand, walk, run, and jump, respiratory patterns, ability to dress, feed and bathe self, write and use arms and hands.

The speech language pathologist will look at speaking, and eating. They will watch for signs of gastroesophageal reflux and breathing difficulties.

Common rehab treatment interventions

The therapist will help your child learn activities to increase muscle strength, improve posture, and decrease deformities. They may work with you to get needed equipment; braces, orthotics, wheelchair, walkers. The occupational therapist can help your child improve arm and hand control and strength. They will teach strategies to help your child be able to dress, eat, bathe, groom, write, do chores, etc. the Speech therapist will work with your child to improve speech, eating and swallowing, and posture.

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