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An Abnormally Low Level of Muscle Tone | Hypotonia

We all know the importance of strong, healthy muscles. Weak muscles can lead to a condition called hypotonia. However, it is is treatable with physical therapy.

Read more about hypotonia and how PT can help in our blog.

What is Hypotonia?

Hypotonia is when muscle tone is low or significantly decreased. Tone gives our muscles stiffness that is felt as resistance to any movement. Muscle tone is essential in keeping our bodies upright in the proper alignment while standing, sitting, walking, etc.

Hypotonia can be a symptom of numerous disorders, some of which include: cerebral palsy (CP), spinal cord lesions, head injuries, myasthenia gravis, or joint contractures. However, the most common cause of hypotonia in children is ‘developmentally delay’ or ‘autism spectrum disorder.’

In other words, hypotonia is a weakness or loss of muscle tone and may be caused by decreased strength, which means that the muscles cannot exert force. This can result in joints with less range of motion, although mass movements such as walking remain intact; however, it causes parts of the body to sag in certain areas (i.e., muscles cannot stiffen).

Low muscle tone in children - Hypotonia
An Abnormally Low Level of Muscle Tone | Hypotonia 1

How Can I Identify Hypotonia in My Child?

One of the easiest ways to identify hypotonia is the appearance of “floppy” muscles. Additionally, a sign is one having little to no control when attempting to complete an activity. Hypotonia in young children presents as low muscle strength.

This makes everyday activities such as walking, going up and downstairs, and prolonged playtime challenging. In addition, clumsiness and falls are more likely to occur in older children and adults, such as difficulty getting out of a particular position, increasing flexibility in the joints, and difficulty reaching or lifting objects.

Transient hypotonia is milder.

The following signs may be present:

Patients with the severe form of this condition are often unable to talk due to their weak muscles. They can have a hard time chewing and swallowing, making it difficult for them to get nutrients from food. Patients with central core disease also have poor movement in the trunk or lower body.

The most critical factor in the prognosis of this disease is its severity. Since its onset, hypotonia tends to last for life and does not disappear without treatment. However, there are treatments available to slow or even reverse some of the symptoms.

Hypotonia must be appropriately diagnosed with an accurate differential diagnosis. Since hypotonia is a symptom rather than a diagnosis, it could result from other conditions that impede muscle movement.

Why is Physical Therapy Important for Those with Hypotonia? 

Physical therapy assists in strengthening muscles in the proper alignment so the muscles surrounding the joints can give the needed stability and support.

This is very important for gross motor skill development and building, balance strength, and coordination needed for everyday activities in a young child! Without a proper diagnosis, PT can still assist in addressing core stability in addition to mobility needs. In older children and adults, the benefit of therapy focuses on building strength and functional capacity of the body through various exercise techniques, including manual therapy modalities.

Patients with hypotonia who receive effective physical therapy have an improved quality of life.

If you or a loved one is in need of physical, occupational, or speech therapy, give us a call at 586-323-2957 to schedule your FREE 30 minute screening.

More to explore

The decision to seek therapy is not always an easy one. If you're looking for life improvement, we want you know that we've got your back!

We invite you schedule a call If you have further questions regarding OT/PT/SLP services for kids and adults at Crawl Walk Jump Run in Clinton Township