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What is low muscle tone and why does it matter?

What is low muscle tone?

Muscle tone is the amount of tension (or resistance to movement) in muscles. Low muscle tone means that there is less tension in the muscle when it is at rest. Low muscle tone is used to describe muscles that are floppy, which is also known as hypotonia.Children with low muscle tone may also tire more easily. They use more energy to move their muscles. Muscle tone and muscle strength are not the same thing. Children can have strong muscles but still have low tone. Low muscle tone is a neurological issue.  Low muscle tone is used to describe muscles that are floppy, which is also known as hypotonia.

Children have difficulty with:

  • May be late learning to sit
  • May be late learning to crawl and walk
  • Have trouble sitting and working at a table or desk –
  • Often lean on one hand while drawing and writing
  • May have flat feet and complain of foot pain with walking
  • Have difficulty sitting still, tends to fidget, does not complete school tasks
  • Find handwriting and drawing harder
  • Tire quickly
  • Avoid activities that require a lot of physical effort
  • Don’t like cross legged sitting and may ‘W sit’
  • Can poor attention span or concentration, and give up easily
  • Have weak core muscles and poor core stability
  • Have difficulties learning ball skills

How does low muscle tone impact attention?

Children with low muscle tone have to work much harder to complete activities at school. Because of this, working at the desk requires a lot more effort for them. They find it harder to sit and concentrate for longer periods of time. They find it harder to maintain attention. These are the children who slouch at their desk. Some rest on the hands to hold their head up.  As a result, they don’t achieve their academic potential.

What can I do about low muscle tone?

It isn’t easy to improve muscle tone. However, children can strengthen their muscles through occupational therapy. They learn to compensate for low tone so they are better at doing their daily activities.

If you have concerns about your child’s skills in any of these areas, then call our Occupational Therapists at our Bondi Junction clinic. They will talk to you about muscle tone and decide if an assessment is required. They can  book your child in an assessment and get started on improving your child’s areas of challenge. We can be contacted on (02) 80657837 or you can email us.

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