Torticollis, sometimes referred to as “wry neck,” can occur naturally in the womb. This is most common with twins and breech births when the baby’s neck is forced into an unusual position. However, it can also occur because of birth trauma caused by a negligent, inexpert, or inappropriate action from a doctor or other medical care provider.
If your infant has torticollis and you believe a preventable birth injury may be to blame, you may be eligible to pursue damages. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at 1-800-222-9529 to connect with a birth injury attorney in your state.
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Infant Torticollis Lawsuits & Injury Cases
To prove medical malpractice caused your infant’s torticollis, you will need evidence to prove:
- The doctor had a duty to provide an acceptable standard of care;
- The doctor failed to provide this standard of care, often by not following best practices or protocols and committing medical negligence; and
- This negligence caused your child to suffer preventable injuries, in this case, torticollis.
While the medical records pertaining to your delivery and your baby’s neonatal records will provide some of this evidence, most medical malpractice cases rely on medical expert testimony to prove negligence. Your attorney can identify a doctor who will testify on your behalf. Some states even require this before you can file a torticollis birth injury lawsuit. This expert witness will:
- Review the facts of your case and determine if your doctor acted negligently
- Explain the acceptable standard of care based on the facts of your case
- Explain how the doctor’s negligence affected your baby and talk about the necessary treatment and prognosis
While torticollis does not usually leave any lasting impairments, your infant may need additional medical care and therapy. In some cases, surgery is necessary. The damages you may be able to recover in a birth injury medical malpractice case can cover these care costs, as well as other damages such as:
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Pain and suffering damages
- Emotional distress
Reach out to us today to talk to an attorney about your case. You may only have a limited time to file a lawsuit and hold the doctor or hospital liable.
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Infant Torticollis Types
Two types of torticollis exist:
- Congenital torticollis, which is present at birth or occurs during birth or immediately after
- Acquired torticollis, which occurs after birth
Infant Torticollis Causes
Abnormal positioning, often breech position, can cause torticollis in the womb. However, birth injuries can also cause this condition. When a negligent doctor causes torticollis, it is usually through:
- Forcing the head into an unnatural position
- Incorrect or inappropriate use of forceps or a vacuum device
- Another improper delivery technique
Treating torticollis relies on a quick and accurate diagnosis. If a doctor does not diagnose the condition, this could also support a medical malpractice lawsuit. By identifying torticollis early and beginning treatment, it is possible to avoid most permanent injuries and reduce the need for surgery.
Infant Resuscitation Errors
When an infant is born not breathing, struggles to keep their blood oxygen level up, or stops breathing after birth, they may require some type of resuscitation. If they do not get immediate support to ensure they get oxygen to their brain, the result can be serious brain damage and lasting disabilities.
Errors in Resuscitation Efforts Can Lead to Significant Brain Damage
When an infant is born not breathing or stops breathing after birth, resuscitation may be necessary to save their life. There are many types of resuscitation efforts that medical care providers can employ, depending on the baby’s symptoms and needs. This includes:
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
- Intubation and mechanical ventilation
- Airway suctioning
- Positive Pressure Ventilation (PPV)
- Epinephrine injection
When resuscitation efforts do not begin immediately, or when they are not performed correctly, the child’s brain can go without oxygen for too long. Brain damage begins within a few minutes. This may lead to:
- Cerebral palsy
- Cognitive disabilities
- Physical disabilities
- Developmental and learning disabilities
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Infant Torticollis Symptoms
Infants with torticollis tilt their head to one side, pointing their chin to the opposite shoulder. They hold this position almost constantly and will likely refuse to turn their head the other way. This position is indicative of torticollis and often easy to recognize when you know what to look for. The newborn may also have trouble breastfeeding from one breast because it is uncomfortable to turn their head in that direction.
Some infants with torticollis develop plagiocephaly, a condition where their head is flat on one side. This occurs because they cannot turn their head completely the opposite way because of the pain and stiffness in their neck.
Infant Torticollis Diagnosis and Treatment
Infant torticollis is diagnosable by the exam and does not usually require any medical imaging to diagnose. Treatment, according to Cleveland Clinic, usually centers on learning how to position your baby and helping them relax and stretch their neck. In more severe cases, the doctor may prescribe physical therapy.
If the symptoms of torticollis do not get better, and the baby’s range of motion does not improve with physical therapy, medication or muscle relaxing surgery may be necessary.
Infant Physical Therapy
A child who suffers from a debilitating physical or cognitive birth injury may have trouble adapting to their environment. During infant physical therapy, a trained professional will carefully observe and monitor your child’s breathing patterns, eating behaviors, skin color, muscle movement, sleep patterns, and their ability to self-soothe. In addition to studying their movements, your child’s physical therapist will position your baby to support their sleeping, waking, and self-soothing abilities.
Infant physical therapy will also help you understand many of your baby’s behaviors, track their growth and development, and feel comfortable and safe while handling and interacting with your son or daughter. Infant physical therapy enhances your baby’s development by improving their gross and fine motor skills, developing their sensory responses and cognitive skills, and easing their transition from hospital to home.
Infant Craniosacral Therapy
Infant craniosacral therapy is a gently probative procedure that helps soothe the soft tissue structures in your baby’s body. It also helps alleviate discomfort in the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid between the base of your baby’s spine and their head. Infant craniosacral therapy uses light touching to examine the areas of your child’s brain and around their central nervous system. It relieves tension, promotes good health, and provides needed pain relief.
Your baby’s cerebrospinal fluids and tissue structures are critical to their good health and bodily functions because they protect, support, and nurture your baby’s brain and spinal cord. Infant craniosacral therapy is beneficial to your newborn because it promotes tension relief, stress relief, relaxation, and increased function.
Infant Torticollis Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my baby has Infant Torticollis?
If your infant seems reluctant to turn their head or if you have trouble feeding on one side because your baby cannot seem to completely turn their head toward you, discuss the possibility of torticollis with a trusted doctor.
Can Infant Torticollis be fatal?
Torticollis is not fatal. This condition that causes a stiff neck usually gets better on its own with help from stretching, position changes, and other physical therapy exercises.
Who is liable for Infant Torticollis?
If you can show the doctor or another health care practitioner acted negligently, you may be able to hold the doctor or hospital liable for your child’s torticollis.
What is the statute of limitations for Infant Torticollis?
There is not a universal deadline for filing a torticollis birth injury case. Instead, each state sets its own deadlines for all medical malpractice cases. They may also have rules such as tolling for minors and a statute of repose that affect how long you have to act. The best way to learn about the statute of limitations that applies in your case is to discuss it with a birth injury attorney from your state.
Infant Torticollis Glossary Terms
- What is Plagiocephaly? Plagiocephaly is a common condition in infants where they develop a flat spot or another asymmetry on their head or face. It is easily treatable.
- What is Congenital Torticollis? Congenital torticollis is present at birth or in the first weeks following birth.
- What is Acquired Torticollis? Acquired torticollis occurs later in infancy or later in life, after the neonatal period.
Talk to a Birth Injury Lawyer in Your State About Your Infant Torticollis Case
If your newborn suffered from infant torticollis and you believe a birth injury was to blame, or if the doctor failed to recognize and diagnose your newborn’s torticollis, you may have a viable medical malpractice case. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at 1-800-222-9529 to connect with a birth injury attorney near you.
Infant Torticollis News
Follow These Tips To Avoid Infant Torticollis
While infant torticollis (wry neck) can be caused by improper handling of the infant’s head during birth, a more common cause of it is letting your child rest too long on one part of their head. Daily Record News shares some reasons why you need to pay attention to your child’s head shape.
When a baby is born, their bones are still soft until about 5-6 months of age. Babies also sleep a lot in one position and prefer to be on their backs when awake. Over time, this can press the head out of shape.
This isn’t normally a cause for concern unless the flattening happens on just one side. This makes it harder for the baby to turn their head to the other side. Over time, this causes the muscles in the neck to shorten and stay twisted. If this twist isn’t treated, it can cause developmental problems.
Babies should go to sleep on their backs to reduce the chances of SIDS, but when they are awake they need time off their back to let the pressure on their skull readjust. A common corrective is to have the baby spend some time face down on your lap or chest. This takes the pressure off the head and lets them start building muscle. Start with 5-10 minutes and work up to 60-90 minutes
If you notice too much head flattening or wry neck, there are corrective measures. Talk with your doctor examine the problem. Wearing a special helmet for a few months can correct the issue before it becomes too damaging.
Model Shares Photos Of Her Baby In A Helmet To Inspire Other Mothers
One of the side effects of infant torticollis is flat head syndrome. Due to the twisting of the neck, pressure can be put on parts of the head during sleep that can cause the soft bones to flatten. Flat heads can also be caused by certain kinds of birth difficulties, such as premature birth.
To fix this problem, babies can wear a special helmet that presses and protects the head to put it back into the proper shape. Chrissy Teigan, a model, went viral after she shared photos of her son in such a helmet. He also undergoes physical therapy to correct the condition. CNN reported on the social media trend.
Mothers who follow the model’s social media also started sharing photos of their babies wearing the devices, one of whom also had torticollis. They also warned against placing babies on their tummy to balance the problem out.
Helmets are not always necessary, but for children with torticollis they can be because the baby cannot correct their head position due to tight muscles in the neck.
Untreated torticollis or flat head syndrome can cause serious problems later. See a pediatrician if your child is developing these conditions. If you believe they were caused due to unwise actions by your birth team, contact our team to see if you might be due compensation.
Social Media Pictures Lead To Diagnosis Of Infant Torticollis
Infant Torticollis is a condition when the muscles of a baby’s neck shorten due to strain. Think of it like a really strong crick in the neck without the pain. Babies with the condition have limited mobility in the neck. A sign of this is when a baby’s head is tilted to one side while the chin points the other way on a regular basis.
Sometimes this can go undetected if a baby seems fine otherwise. One mother didn’t find out about her baby’s condition until a social media commenter pointed it out after she posted baby pictures. WhatToExpect.com has the story.
A star from the Bachelorette, Ashley Rosenbaum, posted pictures of her two-year-old daughter when a commenter said to get little Essex checked for torticollis. Rosenbaum was glad she listened to the advice when her pediatrician gave her a positive diagnosis and fitted the baby with a special helmet to restretch the muscles to the right length.
It is a treatable condition, but it does take time to correct and requires special exercises. Extreme cases may require surgery. The condition affects roughly one in every 250-300 births. Large babies and multiple-birth pregnancies raise the risk.
Untreated torticollis can lead to vision and balance problems due to the wrong position of the head. There are also more serious conditions that often accompany torticollis like flat head syndrome and DDH. Ask your pediatrician to check for these conditions as well if torticollis is confirmed.