Torticollis is the medical term for a twisted neck, also called wry neck or loxia. It is frequently caused by delivery trauma. Parents may notice symptoms including decreased movement of the neck, or a head that is often tilted toward the same side. Some infants with this injury have more difficulty nursing on one side. These symptoms may appear immediately after birth, or several weeks later.
Causes of Torticollis Injuries
Torticollis has a variety of causes aside from negligence:
- Misalignment of the spine in utero
- Short fall (for example, from a bed or table)
- Sudden stops in the car
- Congenital causes
- Excessive time infants spend on their backs
Negligent causes include:
- Vacuum extractor injuries
- Forceps delivery
- Improper delivery technique
Not only can negligence be the cause of a torticollis birth injury, but failure to identify such an injury can be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit, as well. In particular, pediatricians should be attuned to parental complaints and should carefully examine the child during medical appointments. Early identification can prevent permanent injuries.
Treatment of Torticollis Birth Injuries
Specialized pediatric chiropractors are trained to apply gentle and appropriate pressure to correct misalignment of the infant’s spine. When timely identified, manual therapy can be successful in 97% of cases, according to one study by the Journal of Manual Medicine. If the problem persists without treatment, particularly for a year or more, surgery may be necessary but may not provide a complete recovery.
A consequence of torticollis can be the development of scoliosis or plagiocephaly (facial or head asymmetry). Plagiocephaly is sometimes treated by a DOC Band, which is a specialized open-topped helmet. Wearing the helmet for 23 hours per day can help to correct the asymmetry. Unfortunately, plagiocephaly is progressive, and failure to correct it early can lead to an exacerbation of injury and a very visible deformity.
If your child has a torticollis injury, including scoliosis or plagiocephaly, contact our birth injury lawyers at (440) 252-4399 or fill out our online consultation form for a no-charge evaluation of your case.