Graduation day for Little Oliviyah

At two months, little Oliviyah Clanton was diagnosed with Torticollis, a condition that causes the neck muscles to contract. She has received regular physical therapy but recently graduated from the sessions.

She’s only two and half years old, but already Oliviyah Clanton has graduated. She recently completed her final session of physical therapy with IU Health’s Eagle Highlands therapist Laurie Niederhauser.

As Oliviyah negotiated stairs Niederhauser talked about how far the little girl has come in her recovery.

“She has been seen for physical therapy since she was two months old. She was originally referred for torticollis and plagiocephaly. These conditions were the result of how she grew in utero and resulted in asymmetrical movements, atypical movement patterns, visual challenges, tonal changes, and sensory issues. Without intervention, she was at risk for severe muscle imbalances and continued motor delays,” said Niederhauser who has worked with IU Health since 2012.

Torticollis is a rare condition that causes the head to twist to one side. There are fewer than 200,000 cases reported in the United States each year. It can result from the baby’s positioning in the womb or from a difficult childbirth. Plagiocephaly develops when an infant’s soft skull becomes flattened in one area. Sometimes a fitted helmet is used to help correct the shape.

Oliviyah, the daughter of Shayda Killebrew and Lydon Clanton took part in “Awaiting First Steps,” a Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health program for children.

“We are able to get children started in services quickly, so we can capitalize on precious days of early brain development and retraining,” said Niederhauser. “We see it as a huge service to help these kiddos jump start early leading to shorter duration of services and more timely outcomes.”

Through regular physical therapy Oliviyah is able to safely climb playground equipment, navigate stairs, pedal and steer a tricycle and traverse a balance beam. She can catch, throw, and kick a ball and participate in age-appropriate activities alongside her peers. Where once her head tilt limited her to tasks only performed at her sides, she is now manages two-handed tasks in the center of her body. She used to be cautious and timid but is now able to play confidently, said Niederhauser.

“She loves to sing, dance, play with bubbles and paint,” said her mom. “Her favorite food is French fries and she loves all fruits. She also loves going to the park to run, swing and climb.”

— By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
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