Cranial asymmetry is more common today in infants than ever before. The American Academy of Pediatrics installed the Back to Sleep program in 1992, urging parents to lay their babies on their backs to sleep. This has since lowered the rate of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) by 40%. But, combined with rigid baby carriers that double as car seats often used during daytime hours to hold and carry young babies, this has increased the amount of Plagiocephaly, Brachycephaly, and Scaphocephaly seen in infants today. While the recommendations are still to lay your baby down to sleep on his/her back, as well as secure your baby in a car seat, “ Tummy Time” (as defined in an article by Colleen Coulter-O’Berry, P.T., M.S., P.C.S., Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Dulcey Lima, C.O., O.T.R./L., and Orthomerica Products, Inc.) is becoming an essential part of your baby’s day-to-day activities. For more essential information on Tummy Time,click here.
Cranial remodeling helmets are used in children aged three to 18 months old to correct the conditions Plagiocephaly, Brachycephaly, and Scaphocephaly. Plagiocephaly is an abnormal shape of the babies head. Brachycephaly is present when the entire back of the head is flat. Scaphocephaly is when a baby has an abnormally tall and long head. Cranial remodeling helmets are very successful in treating these conditions.
When your baby is 3-12 months old, their head is growing and changing at a startling rate; this is normal and essential. Because of this growth, cranial remodeling helmets are most effective during this time. Most treatment times started between 3 and 12 months of age are 3-6 months, many being only 3-4 months. After 1 year of age, the rate of cranial growth decreases, potentially causing treatment time to increase. Before the age of 3 months, most infants respond well to repositioning efforts and lack the head support needed to manage the weight of the helmet. For more information on repositioning, please discuss with your pediatrician.
Orthomerica’s STARband cranial remolding helmets, as used here at G.R.E. Orthotics & Prosthetics, are very light: between 6-10 ounces. They are custom made to the shape of your babies head. During your babies evaluation a scan will taken of your babies head. This scan is painless and completely safe. The light used in the scanner is safe for your baby’s eyes, and in many cases the light never enters the eyes at all. Before the scan is taken a fabric stocking with dots on it will be placed over your babies head. Do not fear! It does not cover their face. From this initial scan, the cranial helmet will be created. There are many colors and patterns to choose from in designing the helmet. For more information on the patterns available,click here.
No more than two weeks after the initial scan, your baby will have his/her first fitting with the helmet. Adjustments will be made then and your baby will go home with their helmet. Ultimately, your baby will wear the helmet 24 hours per day, taking it off only for bathing and to clean it. Follow-up visits will be scheduled for the entirety of your baby’s cranial remodeling treatment. During these visits, follow up scans will be taken to track the progress of your baby’s treatment. Adjustments will be made to the helmet to help maintain progress at these follow up visits as well.
G.R.E. O&P clinicians fit the Star orthoses from Orthomerica, a leader in corrective helmet devices. The STAR family of cranial remolding orthoses is used to treat deformational plagiocephaly, brachycephaly, scaphocephaly and other head shape deformities in infants 3—18 months of age.