|Image Credit: Janelle Aby, MD, Stanford.edu|
Hypotonia is a medical term for decreased muscle tone which is the amount of tension or resistance to stretch in a muscle and is felt as resistance to movement. It is not the same as muscles weakness and it can be difficult to use the muscle which has been affected. Muscle weakness could at times develop in hypotonia based on the cause of the ailment.
This ailment is often identified in babies’, immediately after birth or at a very tender age though it could also develop in the later stage of life. Hypotonia is not a medical disorder; it is a potential manifestation of several other diseases and disorders which can affect the motor never that is controlled by the brain or muscle strength.
Recognizing the symptoms of hypotonia in early infancy is quite straightforward though diagnosing the cause could be difficult and not very successful. The effects of hypotonia on the development of a child on long term would depend mainly on the seriousness of the muscle weakness as well as the nature of the cause. While some disorder tends to have a specific treatment, the principle treatment for most hypotonia of neurologic or idiopathic cause is physical therapy and occupational therapy for remediation and probably music therapy.
Symptoms - Children
Hypotonia is presumed to be associated with the disruption of afferent input from stretch receptors or/and lack of the cerebellum’s facilitatory efferent influence on the fusimotor system which is the system that innervates intrafusal muscle fibres in controlling muscle spindle sensitivity.
Hypotonia when present at birth is detected when the child is six months old in infants and young children, if not earlier. Some of the symptoms may include: the child may have little or no control of their neck muscles and hence their head tend to flop, feel limp when held as though they would slip easily through the hands, unable to place any weight on their leg of shoulder muscles, arms and legs tend to hang straight down from their sides instead of bending at the elbows, hips and knees, would be finding sucking and swallowing difficult and may have a weak cry.
Besides this, the child may also take a longer time to reach development like crawling, sitting up, walking, talking and feed themselves.
Symptoms - Adults
An adult suffering from hypotonia may envisage the following problems:
- Would tend to be clumsy and fall frequently
- Have an unusual degree of flexibility in the hips, knees and elbows
- Have difficulty in rising up from a lying or sitting position
- Difficulty is reaching for or lifting objects