Low muscle tone in children is a condition commonly referred to as hypotonia or floppy muscle tone and can be detected as early as infancy. An infant with hypotonia may have slightly bent knees and elbows and may appear limp at birth. As the child grows, he/she may continue struggling with motor, writing and feeding skills.
Signs of low muscle tone in children
Hypotonia is a condition where the signs and symptoms have several different underlying diseases and disorders that affect motor nerve control. Depending on the underlying cause, floppy muscle syndrome can appear at any age and can affect both sexes. Some of the signs that indicate a particular child or infant has hypotonia include;
- In infants they often feel limp when held
- The child seems to have loose joints
- There is a delay in development of motor skills such as crawling and grapping
- The child has poor head control
- He/She has difficulties with drawing and handwriting
- They have difficulty sitting erect and the child tend to sit or stand with his or her back rounded.
A child or infant having these symptoms may have poor reflexes, decreased strength, decreased muscle tone, weakened posture, a decrease in activity endurance, speech difficulties and hyper flexibility.
What is Muscle Tone?
In general terms, it is the firmness of the muscle. When muscles are in action, they become taught and firm to move the joints that they work with. And, muscles that are ready for action has some level of firmness as well, usually tied to the person’s readiness for action or their alertness. This is why low alertness in children is often tied to low muscle tone. This also means that children with low muscle tone have slow reaction times and slow reflexes. Their muscles just aren’t ready to react as they are with other children. It is also important to note that low muscle tone is not the same thing as low muscle strength. Strength is the ability of the muscle to contract, where muscle tone is its firmness and ability to react.
Can Low Muscle Tone Be Cured?
The short answer is no. The connective tissue in your body is largely determined by DNA and doesn’t change. But it can be improved upon and the person’s body can be trained to work differently.
Therapy for Low Muscle Tone in Children
The treatment for hypotonia usually depends on the degree of low muscle tone in the affected child, but often it is some kind of physical/ occupational therapy. Most therapy associated with this condition is for gross motor skills and core training. For children, obviously, any therapy needs to be fun. So, creating a therapy routine that is fun can get into many creative ideas, ranging from things like exercise ball activities, swimming to riding horses to train their core. And, often the gross motor skills activities are centered on balance. Here we have you covered, because we have a great balance beam for kids made by Guidecraft, and we also have wide selection of balance bikes from Smart Gear and Early Rider. Some other balancing activities are playing hop-skotch, hopping on one foot or playing on a balance board.
Muscle Weakness (Hypotonia): www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site1106/mainpageS1106P0.html
Hypotonia Information Page: www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/hypotonia/hypotonia.htm