Plagiocephaly (play-gee-oh-kef-a-lee) derived from the Greek term for “oblique head” describes a common condition of a flat, misshapen or asymmetrical head shape. It can occur in utero, during birth or develop in the first three months of life. Plagiocephaly usually corrects itself as the baby grows, but sometimes treatment is needed. Positional plagiocephaly usually occurs in the first three month of life when the skull is at its softest, most malleable state and when the infant is spending the majority of their time lying on their back. Other types of skull deformities which can occur include; Brachycephaly (“short head” in Latin) and Dolichocephaly (“long head” in Greek).
In order to reduce the risk of developing deformational plagiocephaly, it is important to vary the head position of the baby during the day and when asleep. Placing your baby on their back to sleep is still recommended to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It is also imperative not to use any pillows in the cot for positioning. Alternating the baby’s head position when sleeping by changing the position of the cot in the bedroom or changing the end of the cot to sleep in for example as well as frequent supervised tummy time are methods that can be used to help prevent positional plagiocephaly.
Plagiocephaly usually improves on its own without any treatment at all as your baby gains head control and can move their head independently. If treatment is required, initial conservative management often begins with physical therapy, often through the guidance of paediatric physiotherapist, where repositioning techniques are taught to parents in order to avoid their child from leaning into the flattened side of the head and improve head shape. Physiotherapist will often also provide stretching or strengthening exercises if it is necessary to stretch and/or strengthen weak or tight neck muscles. If further treatment is necessary, you may be referred for the provision of a cranial remoulding helmet.
Cranial remoulding helmets are a safe option designed to help your child obtain a more symmetrical head shape by taking pressure off the flat area and allowing the skull to grow into the space provided. Cranial remoulding helmets consist of a lightweight plastic shell with a soft foam lining which are purely designed for cosmetic purposes, it will not hurt your baby or affect your child’s developmental milestones. The decision to begin helmet therapy is completely up to you as the parent.
Every baby is different and the duration of treatment is dependent on age, size, the severity of the condition and the level of correction to be achieved. However cranial remoulding helmets are most effective when started between the age of 4-7 months, a period of rapid head growth. The helmet is typically worn anywhere from 3 to 6 months for 23 hours a day with treatment usually finishing by the age of 12 months. Older children may require staying in the helmet for a longer period as the rate of correction and growth slows down significantly as they get older.
Helmets are designed to absorb some of the shock or impact of trauma
to limit injury to the head. Our protective helmets are sourced from original manufacturers of equipment for high impact sports such as Ice Hockey, American Football and Motocross. As all of our Helmets are custom made, please contact our team to discuss any options or specific requirements not shown in any of our models.