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

[deleted account] ( 2 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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Louise - posted on 02/13/2010

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My daughter has hemiplegic cerebral palsy because of being born early- and the following has been helpful for her: infant massage, putting her on her tummy on one of those excercise balls rolling from feeting touching floor standing to forwarding the ball and on her tummy, and putting a roll under her armpits encouraging putting weight on the arms and you behind encouraging the legs to bend into crawling. My daughter also did well with an exersaucer building her leg strength on her own - now she is bigger and in a pony walker that the therapist has provided her to build leg strength.

Kathryn - posted on 02/11/2010

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Yes! My son too has high muscle tone. While infant massage is strongly encouraged, my son finds it too disorganizing (he's much younger than your daughter). We do things like these: 1) lay him on his side and manipulate the upper leg over the lower leg and place the foot on the floor. Place paci in his mouth and bend his head to his chest. Pull his legs forward (butt backward), creating the fetal position. This is called flexion and is what the PT is after. Hold. Do to the other side. 2) Lay him on his back, toes towards me. Bend legs at knees, pull legs up against his chest, having him touch his knees and thighs with his hands. Hold this position a while (like 3 or more minutes). 3) Lay him on his back. Pull one arm across his chest, which twists his upper body, but hold the lower body close to firm. Hold. Do to the other side. (Try to avoid having his head bend to the side with the arm being pulled.) 4) Encourage bilateral movement, like kicking by alternating his feet, having his grasp his hands, pass a rattle from one hand to the other, etc. The bilateral movement is about his limbs crossing the middle of his body (his midline) or alternating sides. I put my son in the tub and then kick his feet for him to teach him the movement.



Good luck! My son's PT started 3 weeks after I heard he needed therapy.

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