Hypotonia is a state of low muscle tone, this is not to be confused with muscle strength but the amount of tension in a muscle, this can often lead to reduced muscle strength. Hypotonia is not a specific medical disorder, but a potential manifestation of many different diseases and disorders that affect motor nerve control by the brain or muscle strength. Recognizing hypotonia, even in early infancy, is usually relatively straightforward, but diagnosing the underlying cause can be difficult and often unsuccessful. The long-term effects of hypotonia on a child’s development and later life depend primarily on the severity of the muscle weakness and the nature of the cause. Some disorders have a specific treatment but the principal treatment for most hypotonia of idiopathic or neurologic cause is physical therapy, occupational therapy for remediation, and/or music therapy.
Hypotonia is thought to be associated with the disruption of afferent input from stretch receptors and/or lack of the cerebellum’s facilitatory efferent influence on the fusimotor system, the system that innervates intrafusal muscle fibers thereby controlling muscle spindle sensitivity. On examination a diminished resistance to passive movement will be noted and muscles may feel abnormally soft and limp on palpation. Diminished deep tendon reflexes also may be noted.
Hypotonia is a condition that can be helped with early intervention.