What can I do to decrease my daughter's high muscle tone?

[deleted account] ( 7 moms have responded )

Hi there,

My daughter was born at 29 weeks and started crawling quite late, at around 11 months, and that was commando crawling only. She is now one year corrected age and has just started to pull herself up into standing position occasionally and has made her first proper crawling moves. She still doesn't sit well though. She has also never played with her feet, and when I try to encourage her she'll play with them while her legs rest against my arm, but as soon as I remove my arm they go back down, she can't hold them like that on her own. Yesterday we had a routine follow-up appointment with her consultant who examined her legs and said she has a rather high muscle tone, meaning her legs are quite stiff, which explains her delays in crawling and sitting, her standing on tiptoes and the fact she never got her feet near her face. He will sort out physio therapy but I'm worried it'll be several weeks at least before we actually get any. Has anyone else been dealing with high muscle tone in their baby and what were you told to do about it? Is there anything, apart from massage which I already know about, that I could do to help her while we wait for our physiotherapy appointment?

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Pamela - posted on 02/03/2010

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Most all states have an Early Inervention program. Ask to get your child screened and they might be able to help you with therapy or exercises you can do at home

Jamie - posted on 02/03/2010

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My son was born at 23 weeks and at his 4 month corrected developmental pediatrician appt I was told he had decreased muscle tone in his upper body and increased in his legs. His upper body tone has increased since he started crawling, but his lower body tone is still increased. I was also told to avoid walkers or jumpers, but if I had to use them to make sure his feet were flat and that the bottom of the seat didn't make his stance too wide (because my son is small I hooked one of his toy rings through the bottom to pinch it smaller). I would give my son massages in his legs (after bathtime when you are putting lotion on anyways), and do stretches with him. Most of what has been said already is what his physical therapist told me as well. Laying on thier backs stretch thier legs back up to thier face, or bicycle type excercises. I would also do stretches with my son too, because his body was very stiff, especially the ribs around his PDA scar.

Erin - posted on 01/31/2010

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My son was born at 30 weeks, and also had high muscle tone. Once he could sit up, he would always sit with his legs straight out in front of him, never bending his knees or rarely bending at the waist. We started early intervention with him when he was about 11 months old, having a PT come to the house once a week. The only things I remember her doing (it's amazing how quickly you forget) were sitting on the floor with him and gently bending his knees so he'd be "side sitting" then she'd put a toy just enough in front of him that he'd have to bend at his waist to reach and play with it. She also told us to sit on the floor with him in our lap and read to him with our legs crossed and his feet between our legs, in such a way that made him bend his knees. Or, you could stick your leg out and have him sit on your leg with knees bent. Our PT also told us that exersaucers and jumpers were OK as long as his feet could be flat on the floor and knees bent, so he wasn't on this tip toes.

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[deleted account]

Hi ladies,

Thank you so much for replying!
We live in London in the U.K. and the national health service is terribly slow over here. In early August, as Leila was nowhere near being able to sit, a health visitor referred us to the community paediatrician where we got an appointment for September. So far so good. He examined her muscle tone and said it's all fine, so there's nothing physically stopping her from sitting etc., but she would benefit from some physiotherapy. I was very happy about that. However, we are still waiting for this appointment and I think it's an absolute farce! I called them once and got a very curt response that there is a waiting list and waiting times are roughly 4-16 weeks!!! Well, it's been over 18 weeks now.
When our hospital consultant looked at her last week and found that her muscle tone is actually high, I told him about the physiotherapy saga and he promised he'd get onto it and make sure she'll have high priority status and will be seen quickly. In the meantime I'm planning to take Leila to see a private osteopath a couple of times, that's suposed to be very effective treatment I've been told.
The excercises sound great, will do those starting today!
Toni, which walkers do you mean? The ones that are made of a frame on wheels and they sit them or the trolley-like frame they can push about? We've got one of those trolley-type ones but she is not advanced enough to use that yet anyway.

Andrea - posted on 01/30/2010

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My daughter, 30 weeker, had that aswell in her arms, trunk, and legs... she also had hypotonia in her hips (hypo and hyper tonia are common in preemies this early). Look into baby massage to help with releaxing the muscles... the exercises that Toni said are really good and that is what my DD PT told us to do. I am not sure what state you are in but here in CA the preemie babies are not able to get into the Early Intervention programs till they have a devopmental delay... I would call your Dr and ask to have her refered over to them, but it might take awhile before she is fully into the program.

Toni - posted on 01/30/2010

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My daughter is 10 1/2 months old 7 months corrected has high muscle tone in her legs. She allmost allways stands on her toes. She does pull her toes to her mouth though. I have early intervention come to the house once a week and they also offered me a physical therapist that also comes to the house once a week. I do alot of stretches with her ankles gently pulling her toes back towards her shins to try to lenghthen that muscle and it really seems to be helping. I try to do it about 4-5 times a day and i also do stretches with her entire leg slowly pushing her leg towars her head. Have you heard about early intervention?
They have told me she might need braces to stop her toe walking. I have an exercauser and her theapist said it was fine as long as she can touch enough that she doesnt have to stand on her toes to move it. Absolutely no walkers though as they tend to worsen high muscle tone and encourage the wrong kind of movement. I hope this helps. God Bless.

Angela - posted on 01/29/2010

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I have the same problem with one of my twins except he does grab for his feet however still qute stiff and i know they tell you not to use the bouncy exersacers but it really helped him bend at the knees. Im curious to see more advice as well

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