What is Hypotonia?

Hypotonia is a medical term for low muscle tone. In other words, it is the decreased amount of tone in a child’s muscles.

 

What is the Difference Between Muscle Tone and Muscle Strength?

Muscle Tone: is the level of tension in a muscle at rest1 

  • It is the potential ability to respond to an outside force, stretch or change in direction2
  • Examples: protective responses, balance reactions, righting reactions

Muscle Strength: is the amount of force the muscle exerts against resistance1 

  • Ability to actively contract and create force2
  • Examples: pushing, pulling, lifting, etc. 

 

Characteristics of Low Muscle Tone

  • Joint hypermobility and instability 
  • Poor Posture
    • “W” sitting
    • Difficulty holding head upright (propping head with hand)
    • Slouched sitting posture
    • Difficulty sitting for long periods of time 
  • Impaired Mobility
    • May appear clumsy with gross motor activities
    • May fatigue quickly; preference for sedentary activities
  • Delayed Development of Gross Motor Skills (examples: crawling, jumping, climbing, etc.)
  • Delayed Development of Fine Motor Skills (examples: grabbing toys, moving objects between hands, etc.)
  • Breathing and Feeding Difficulties 
  • Ligament and Joint Laxity 

 

Treatment Options

  • Occupational Therapy: teach skills to help address day to day activities
  • Physical Therapy: addresses muscle strength, coordination and posture
  • Speech Therapy: addresses swallowing, feeding and speaking

Goals for Treatment: 

    • Improve postural responses and righting reactions
    • Improve posture control
    • Improve functional strength
    • Facilitate motor planning 

 

If you have concerns your child may be displaying signs of low muscle tone, please call our office today. We are happy to help. 

 

Sources:

  1. SureStep 
  2. DinoPT

Photos: pixabay, SureStep, Living With Cerebral Palsy 

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