Strive Orthotics & Prosthetics, LLC
We understand that a diagnosis for Plagiocephaly can be worrisome and scary. Hearing that your baby may need ‘helmet therapy’ can bring on a wave of questions and worries but rest easy, we’re parents first and clinicians second. We’ve sat on the other side of the desk and had the same fears and worries when our first son was diagnosed with Plagiocephaly and our second had it as well. We’re here to give you the tools to handle and treat the Plagiocephaly diagnosis and answer any questions you may have during the process.
Q. What is Plagiocephaly?
A. Plagiocephaly is a common and highly treatable condition where asymmetry or flat spots occur separately or together on your infants head. The two main types of Plagiocephaly are Positional Plagiocephaly, which occurs in nearly 50% of infants, and Congenital Plagiocephaly, also known as Craniosynostosis. Craniosynostosis is a rare condition where the sutures in the infants head close prematurely and can require surgery to correct.
Q. Why is Plagiocephaly becoming more common?
A. Starting in 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics and National Institutes of Health introduced the ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign, now known as “Safe to Sleep’ and the result was a dramatic decrease of over 50% in SIDS related deaths. Since this time the percent of infants with deformational plagiocephaly has increased. Even though Plagiocephaly has increased, the safest way to put your baby to sleep is still on their back.
Q. How do I know if my baby has Plagiocephaly?
A. Sometimes ‘flat’ or asymmetrical spots are visible, and sometimes as parents we have a hard time seeing them. If you are concerned about the symmetry or shape of your child’s head, contact your pediatrician, or call us to schedule a free evaluation. We work with your pediatrician, physical or occupational therapist or family physician to achieve the best possible outcome for your little one.
Q. Can Plagiocephaly be prevented?
A. Absolutely. Re-positioning techniques, supervised tummy time, less frequent use of strollers in favor of front chest carriers, and not leaving infants in car seats when not in a motor vehicle can all help prevent Positional or Deformational Plagiocephaly. Placing your infant on it’s chest for sleep is not recommended as the risk of SIDS increases.
Q. How is Plagiocephaly evaluated?
A. We use the latest portable 3D scanning technology so the experience is painless and fuss free for both the parents and the infant. We often have the infant sit in your lap during the scan and it’s very fast.
Q. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, will the orthotist answer my questions?
A. Of course, that’s what we’re here for. As a parent, you’re part of the integrated health care team and we want you have as many tools as possible to help.
Q. How is Plagiocephaly treated?
A. In some very mild cases, early intervention by using re-positioning techniques can correct Plagiocephaly. If not, we use the Orthomerica STARband® Cranial Remolding Orthosis, also known as a Cranial Remolding Helmet or Baby Helmet.
Q. What age do you recommend starting treatment for Plagiocephaly?
A. We recommend starting treatment in a cranial remolding helmet at 4 months old, but we can begin evaluation and monitoring as early as 1 month old. Starting early allows us to help find solutions to prevent the use of a cranial remolding orthosis.
Q. What ages can use the STARband® Cranial Remolding Orthosis?
A. Orthomerica’s STARband® is FDA approved for ages 3-18 months and can be used past 18 months with written explanation from your pediatrician or referring physician.
Q. Will the STARband® be uncomfortable or hurt my baby?
A. This is the most asked question we receive. The cranial remolding orthosis or helmet does not cause any pain or headaches, and does not hinder the normal development and growth of your baby. Babies are highly adaptable and adjust very quickly. Most babies take 1-4 days to adjust to wearing the orthosis. We have a slow break-in wearing schedule to get you and your baby used to wearing the helmet without any issues. We adjust the orthosis regularly to fit exactly as needed and to be comfortable and not too tight for your infant.
Q. Are infants just as happy when wearing the STARband® orthosis?
A. Absolutely! The STARband orthosis does not affect the personality of your infant. You’ll have the same happy baby you’ve always had! Babies often grow attached to their STARband orthoses.
Q. How long will my baby have to wear the STARband® orthosis?
A. We start the first week on a limited schedule then we always recommend 22 hours a day wear for the STARband® orthosis. Average treatment time is 3-6 months for 90-100% correction.
Q. So my infant sleeps with the STARband® orthosis on?
A. Yes. We reccommend giving your infant a two hour break before bedtime to properly clean and dry the STARband® orthosis before they go to sleep. To have successful correction, your infant needs to wear the band when the full 22 hours daily.
Q. What if I notice red or irritated spots?
A. If you have an area that is getting red, and it doesn’t go away after 45 minutes after removing the STARband® orthosis, then remove the orthosis until you can reach the orthotist. Our orthotist is available after hours to answer your questions for just such cases and we provide you with a direct contact number to that person.
Q. Is more information available?
A. You can contact your pediatrician, family doctor, occupational or physical therapist or call us at 586-803-4325 and schedule a free evaluation and we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Q. Are there any websites for support or with more info?
A. Yes. you can visit The National Association for Plagiocephaly’s Website at plagiobaby.org to find information, support, and stories from real parents. You can also visit Orthomerica’s website at starbandkids.com and additional information can be found on our Resources for Parents page.