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Just prior to my grandson’s first birthday, we celebrated the completion of him wearing a cranial remolding orthosis for plagiocephaly, an asymmetric distortion of the head. Daniel was a beautiful baby, perfect in our eyes, right from the beginning, but the correction has enhanced his looks and may promote better health with his features now symmetrically aligned.

Plagiocephaly is a fairly common condition today. The skull deformation may be the result of a number of factors before, during, or after birth. Most common is the placement of babies on their backs to prevent SIDS which can flatten the soft bones in the back of their heads. “Tummy time” is encouraged to help prevent this.

Daniel’ head was flatter on one side possibly because of a combination of genetics and a difficult birth. This made it challenging for him to hold up his head and do the necessary tummy time. Correcting the shape of his head with the device not only rounded out the flat side, but it also helped align his eyes and ears. The alignment should allow for better use of corrective eye glasses and sunglasses in the future and also wearing a hat. In addition, limited studies show that when eyes and ears are symmetric, vision and hearing may be improved.

After 360 degree digital surface imaging of the head with 15 high-resolution cameras, the lightweight helmet was designed specifically for him to allow mild holding pressure to capture and alter the growth. Every two to three weeks, the interior foam of the helmet was shaved to carefully direct the growth to flat regions. Daniel wore the helmet night and day and showed no indication of discomfort from it.

The length of treatment depends on the severity of the condition and a baby’s age. Little can be done after a baby is 12-18 months when the bones have hardened. Insurance often covers the expense if deemed necessary.

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©2014, Mary K. Doyle

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