The recommended treatment plan for hypotonia (decreased muscle tone) will depend on the underlying cause.
Hypotonia caused by a baby being born prematurely will usually improve as the baby gets older. However, specialist treatment and support may be needed during this time and for other problems associated with prematurity.
Hypotonia in babies born to mothers with myasthenia gravis usually improves quickly. Again, specialist treatment and support may be needed while the baby improves. In cases where hypotonia is caused by an infection, the symptoms may disappear if the infection is treated successfully.
If a cure for the underlying cause of hypotonia isn't possible – as is unfortunately often the case – treatment will mainly focus on trying to improve and support the person's muscle function through the use of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy. For example, orthotics and adaptive equipment may be required.
In some cases, funding may be available from social care services to help pay for things such as home adaptations, walking aids and wheelchairs. If additional support is needed at school, funding may also be available.
Read more about care equipment, aids and adaptations, mobility equipment, and children and young people's services.
If physiotherapy is recommended, the physiotherapist will assess your child's muscle tone and ask them to carry out a series of exercises and tasks.
In treating hypotonia, the main objectives of physiotherapy are to:
- improve posture and co-ordination to compensate for low muscle tone
- strengthen the muscles around the joints of the arms and legs so they provide more support and stability
The physiotherapist will design a programme that includes a range of exercises for your child to do on a daily basis. Therapy should be fun and integrated into your child's daily routine and everyday activities, both at home and at school.
Occupational therapy teaches you the skills needed to carry out day-to-day activities. For example, the occupational therapist may focus on improving the hand and finger skills needed for dressing and feeding.
As with physiotherapy, you may be offered regular occupational therapy sessions. You'll also be taught exercises and tasks you can perform on a daily basis.
Equipment to help you move around more easily may also be recommended, such as ankle or foot supports if your ankles or feet are affected by hypotonia.
Speech and language therapy
A speech and language therapist (SLT) can assess your child's feeding and swallowing, and help identify swallowing problems that can sometimes be associated with hypotonia. The SLT will also be able to make recommendations about feeding support.