Plagiocephaly and brachycephaly have both been successfully treated with helmets for many years. Discover some treatment success stories below – simply click a child’s name from the list on the left to view their story.
Parent(s): Tina and Simon
Katie was born on 6 January 2004 at the Rosie Maternity Hospital in Cambridge to parents Tina and Simon. The delivery was very normal and the family were back home again just ten hours after leaving for the hospital.
When Katie was about six weeks old, Simon noticed that her head was very flat on one side and that her ears were out of alignment, giving the impression that her face was on the side of her head. Both parents guessed that the flat spot was due to her preference for sleeping with her head on one side, and by coincidence Tina saw an article in a mother and baby magazine about a baby with deformational plagiocephaly who was wearing a helmet that had been fitted in Spain. This child's story tallied with the family's own experiences with Katie and her flat spot.
Tina spoke to the health visitor, who had not heard of plagiocephaly but suggested that the family see their doctor. The GP was aware of the condition and was also confident that Katie's head would correct itself once she began to spend more time on her front. However, he was concerned with the position of her ears and said he would refer the family to a paediatrician. A few days later the date of the appointment came through: they were going to have to wait ten weeks before they would get to see someone – and the flat spot was getting worse!
Would it get better by itself? Not being ones for inactivity, Tina and Simon started researching the condition themselves. They called the paediatrician that they had been referred to, but he admitted that he didn't know anything about plagiocephaly and could not recommend any colleagues. The parents then called their private medical insurance company: plagiocephaly was on the list of conditions that they would cover, but on digging deeper it turned out that none of their doctors in the family's area had any experience of the condition.
The family instead turned to the internet and, after sifting through heaps of speculation and conjecture, three constant themes came through: they could a) wait and see what might happen; b) try aggressive repositioning; or c) get a helmet. Not being prepared to leave this to chance, Tina and Simon began repositioning Katie, continually trying to keep her from putting pressure on the flat spot. This turned out to be relatively easy during the day, but was impossible at night: every attempt they made to move her head would result in her waking and moving it back to her preferred position.
The internet research continued and eventually they found the details of a German specialist who held a clinic in London; the family immediately made an appointment to see him on his next visit. By the time they went down to London for the appointment, Katie's parents had accepted that she did have deformational plagiocephaly – it was just a question of how bad it was and what her prognosis would be. In the end they were not surprised when Katie's head was measured at 18mm out of alignment and classed as a severe case. Katie was measured for her helmet straight away, which caused a lot of tears, but luckily she would have no memory of that now. Two weeks later, when Katie was five and a half months old, the family returned to London for the helmet to be fitted.
Within four weeks, her misalignment had reduced to just 8mm and her parents were amazed. In all, Katie wore her helmet for just over five months and her alignment is now back to zero, while her face is also back in the middle with her ears in line. At no point during her treatment did Katie complain about wearing her helmet – it just became an accepted part of her life. As Tina says: "I believe it has all definitely been worth it, and Katie has not suffered."
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