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): Paulene and Rob
Oliver was born naturally three weeks early in September 2004. In fact he arrived so quickly into the world that he was delivered by his proud father, Rob.
When he arrived his head was perfectly shaped. However, after eight weeks Rob and Paulene noticed his head shape had become distorted. In addition, his neck muscles seemed very tight and he could only look to the right side. His parents tried lots of things during playtime to get him to look the other way, but even though his eyes would move towards the noise, his head remained in the same position.
Paulene and Rob mentioned this to the health visitor, who advised them to make an appointment with their GP, which they did immediately. When they later saw their GP he did make a comment that Ollie's head shape was a worry and that he would refer the family to a paediatrician at their local hospital. At no time was plagiocephaly mentioned, however, even though Paulene and Rob mentioned their concerns about his tight neck muscles.
In mid-February 2005 the family were finally able to get an appointment with a paediatrician. By this time Ollie's neck movement had shown a considerable improvement, but his head had become totally flat on his right side and was looking very angular. When his parents looked down at his head, they also noticed a misalignment of his ears and a bulging of the left side of his forehead.
The paediatrician told the family that Ollie was suffering from plagiocephaly (this was the first time they had heard a name for the condition), but that it was purely cosmetic and that when he got hair growth it would look fine if it hadn't already sorted itself out. His parents were even offered the possibility of some quite drastic skull-reshaping treatment when he got older if they were still concerned – which understandably totally horrified them. At no point were any measurements taken to discover the extent of his misalignment, although his head circumference was taken, which proved to be completely normal.
Paulene and Rob were told to try repositioning, but, as they discovered, when a child is six months old this can prove very difficult. They resigned themselves to the hope that maybe Ollie would grow out of it, although no improvement over the next six weeks was noticeable: if anything, as he got older his asymmetrical head shape became more pronounced.
The family decided to research plagiocephaly on the internet – they came across Headstart4Babies and so got in touch. After talking to the support group they immediately made an appointment for the following Sunday to see a specialist and to get Ollie measured for his misalignment.
When they arrived at the clinic Paulene and Rob were overwhelmed to see so many other children there who were also suffering from plagiocephaly, but who looked totally comfortable in their helmets.
The specialist took measurements and confirmed that Ollie had a misalignment of 30mm, which is classed as severe, and that his head shape would not rectify itself over time without the help of helmet therapy. This was the first time that his parents were even aware of the difference between moderate and severe misalignment, and they decided straight away to have Ollie fitted for a helmet.
What particularly impressed them at the clinic was that another couple had brought their child to see the specialist and that when he checked the misalignment it was only moderate: as a result he gave them some repositioning techniques and told them to contact him again in four weeks if they were still concerned.
Paulene and Rob returned two weeks later for Ollie to have his helmet fitted. After just three and a half weeks of wearing it, the difference was incredible. From having a very flat, angular appearance to the right side of his head it had started to round out. Ollie took to his helmet like a duck to water, wearing it 23 hours a day with no problems whatsoever. The family was due to return to the clinic at the end of May, and Paulene and Rob were very hopeful that the misalignment would have been reduced considerably (although they were told that because of his severity Ollie may have to wear his helmet for six to eight months).
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