What is hypotonia?

A child is said to have hypotonia, or poor muscle tone, if he or she appears limp at birth, and if his or her muscles show too little resistance to stretch. Hypotonia causes difficulties with feeding and motor skills, as it affects muscle strength, motor nerves, and the brain. It can be a result of injury, illness, or an inherited disorder, or a problem with the nervous system or muscular system such as cerebral palsy, brain damage from lack of oxygen at birth, or muscular dystrophy. Genetic conditions such as Down syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, Tay-Sachs disease, or Trisomy 13 can also cause hypotonia. Benign congenital hypotonia occurs all on its own, and is not related to a separate condition. It may have associated developmental delays that are generally mild.

Signs of hypotonia in infants and children are:

  • Poor or no head control
  • Delay in gross motor skills development such as crawling
  • Delay in fine motor skills development such as grasping a crayon

How can I help my child with hypotonia?

At CTS, our physical therapists can help your child work toward goals such as sitting upright, walking, or playing sports by developing coordination and other gross motor skills as well as overall body strength. Our occupational and speech-language therapists can help with breathing, speech, and swallowing difficulties.  If you have any questions please call CTS at 630-444-0077 to speak to a therapist, or to speak to a client support specialist.