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FIZJOMED Katarzyna Kopeć
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Heightened Muscle Tension in Children

Heightened Muscle Tension in ChildrenParents often ask where heightened (or lowered) muscle tension in children comes from when they see code ICD-10 on a referral for rehabilitation.

What are the causes and how do they manifest in a child? What are the prime symptoms which can cause concern for the parents?

The course of pregnancy, proper or decent, the medicine used as well as the illnesses endured all have an effect on the development of the fetus, often this is when the control and self-regulating system responsible for the proper muscular tension in children develops. Development of society (the environmental pollution, chemicals used on food and in agriculture, stress on the mother) creates challenges for us as children are born weaker and weaker.

Studies have shown that just several years ago, irregularities in the development of young children were lower than presently, also they were diagnosed less often. Nowadays, due to the advancement of neurodevelopmental methods such as NDT-Bobath, first irregularities of the nervous system can be observed in a few-day-old child and Prof. Prechtla’s, from Austria, method allows to visualize, using ultrasound, the way a child moves and assert whether these “movements” are correct or not. However, before consulting a physiotherapist or neurologist, we ourselves can observe the behavior of our bundle of joy. Whether they prefer certain positions over others (e.g. doesn’t like to be laid on the belly), prefer one side over the other, prefer to use one hand to grab things, how they lay their head, do they have clench hands or legs drawn up, do they cry incessantly and refuse to calm down, do they have eating problems (sucking, swallowing) and if they excessively spill their food. These may, but not necessarily, be indicative signs of muscular tension disorders in children (hypertonia or hypotonia). It’s worth remembering that before a child finishes the fourth month of their life this may be the last chance to consult a specialist before these disorders become permanent.

In our office, our clients obtain professional help once their child is given a referral with a diagnosis of “heightened/lowered muscle tension in a child”. Help that is not only verbal but also a step-by-step rehabilitation guidance at home with the baby. A demonstration and training of the proper care, which encourages correct development of the child and normalizes heightened or lowered muscular tension, which in effect gives proper motor models which then aids the child in attaining new motor abilities. We support parents in such situations, highlighting the strengths and capabilities of the child and based on these we work with the child. This is also how the concept of NDT-Bobath is understood, which is based on a very good knowledge of the principles of an infant’s motor development by a physiotherapist and on this basis we promote the child’s proper development through natural games in the office.
Let’s remember, that the earlier the irregularity is noticed and diagnosed in a child the higher the chances are for an improvement in the functioning of an infant.