Muscular Hypertonicity

PHYSICAL THERAPY

MUSCULAR HYPERTONICITY

Muscular Hypertonicity

Muscle tone is the amount of resistance (tension) to movement in your muscles. Muscle tone allows you to maintain good posture when sitting, controls your reflexes, and helps regulate the function of your organs in your body. Muscular hypertonicity (hypertonia, high muscle tone), is too much muscle tone. Infants and newborns with hypertonia have stiff muscles which can be difficult to move. Hypertonia can affect both arms and legs (quadriplegia), affect only the legs (diplegia), just one side of the body (hemiplegia) or can even affect only one extremity or one muscle group in a single limb.

Think of our muscles like a rubber band. Children with low muscle tone present like an old, stretched out rubber band and have to work a little harder to activate their muscles appropriately. Children with high muscle tone present like a stiff, rigid rubber band that has trouble stretching. Muscle tone and strength are two different things.

There are typically 3 Kinds of Hypertonia:

  • Spasticity – velocity dependent
  • Dystonia – involuntary muscular contraction when voluntarily moving
  • Rigidity – resistance to movement, fast or slow

Management

  • Passive Range of Motion 
    • Position your baby or child where they are most comfortable and move the affected body part slowly and safely through their available range of motion. Typically, your kiddos body will have a natural stop, which is why it’s important to move slowly. Stop just before this point, hold them to sustain that range for a few seconds, gently bring them back to the starting position and repeat. Hopefully as you continue this motion, their range increases further and their body is able to relax.
  • Stretching
      • Practice stretching with excercises provided by your Occupational Therapist or Physical Therapist .