BACKGROUND: Although the success of conservative management of congenital muscular torticollis has been well documented, relatively little is known about the determinants of this outcome, such as treatment duration and exercise frequency. The aim of the present study was to define factors related to treatment duration, to compare different frequencies and intensities of home treatment programs and their effect on the speed of recovery. METHODS: The present study was a prospective study of 45 infants (26 male, 19 female) with congenital muscular torticollis referred to the pediatric surgical outpatient during a I year period. Following a standardized initial assessment, parents were taught our intensive home treatment protocol, consisting of passive stretching exercises repeated every 3 h. RESULTS: The mean age at initial assessment was 38.6 days (range 15-120 days). Mean treatment duration was found to be 3.2 +/- 1.3 months. All patients were treated by use of our intensive protocol of passive stretching exercises (100% success). No surgery was necessary. CONCLUSIONS: In patients with early treated congenital muscular torticollis, there is no place for surgical treatment. This group of patients can be successfully treated using an intensive protocol of passive stretching exercises. In addition, this treatment protocol has a very short treatment duration compared with other standardized protocols. A successful outcome depends primarily on good cooperation with the parents, especially in developing countries.
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