Plagiocephaly & Cranial Helmets

Does my baby need a cranial helmet?
Plagiocephaly helmet Melbourne service
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The decision whether to fit your baby with a cranial remoulding helmet is by no means an easy task and can tug at a parent’s emotional heartstrings.

Some parents are hesitant about treating plagiocephaly and brachycephaly as it is considered to be cosmetic rather than a medical issue and therefore choose not to opt for helmet treatment in the knowledge that the deformity may not fully self-correct.

On the other hand, some parents choose to see an orthotist who provides helmet treatment to potentially give greater improvement than would happen without intervention.

Plagiocephaly cranial helmet Melbourne Australia
Isla's plagiocephaly cranial helmet

Plagiocephaly and brachycephaly became more frequent after the public health campaign ‘Back to Sleep’ was introduced to reduce the rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and fatal sleeping accidents in Australia. Placing your baby on their back to sleep is a recommendation that has largely contributed to an 80% reduction in SIDS deaths since the 1990s and is still recommended.

plagiocephaly brachycephaly
Plagiocephaly & Brachycephaly

baby cranial plagiocephaly parents clinicians
Image courtesy of Invent Medical

Approximately 3% of infants have an asymmetrical head shape, such as positional plagiocephaly and brachycephaly, and need a cranial remoulding helmet.

Many parents choose to undergo helmet therapy after repositioning and physiotherapy for one to two months without success.

For moderate and severe cases of plagiocephaly and brachycephaly, there is a limit to how much can be achieved through repositioning alone and many head shapes are so severe that they will never catch up naturally.

Orthotic treatment using a helmet is an effective solution for severe asymmetrical and flat head shapes. Wearing a cranial remoulding helmet allows the head to become more symmetrical when its growth is guided in the right direction through the effect of the helmet.

plagiocephaly baby head diagram
Image courtesy of Invent Medical

plagiocephaly helmet baby pink
Image courtesy of Invent Medical

Our helmets are all custom made to your baby’s specifications.

Made with a hard outer shell and soft foam inner lining, they are lightweight, breathable and thin to improve comfort so your baby will soon forget they are wearing a helmet!

The colour and pattern of the helmet can be customised to match your little one’s personality.

The best time to start helmet treatment is between the age of 4 to 14 months of age with average duration of treatment being 4.5 months.

plagiocephaly 3d scanning baby helmet
Image courtesy of Invent Medical

At Massons, we can assess the severity of your baby’s head shape asymmetry using both traditional assessment techniques combined with a high precision 3D scan to accurately capture the shape of your baby’s head.

Together with the parent’s involvement, we can jointly decide upon the most appropriate treatment path and can recommend you to other health care providers if needed to compliment helmet treatment.

Should you have any questions regarding treatment using a cranial remoulding helmet or to arrange an appointment, please reach out to our clinicians at Massons Healthcare.

FAQ'S

Can plagiocephaly be treated without a helmet?

For moderate and severe cases of plagiocephaly and brachycephaly, there is a limit to how much can be achieved through repositioning alone and many head shapes are so severe that they will never catch up naturally.

Orthotic treatment using a helmet is an effective solution for moderate to severe asymmetrical and flat head shapes.

A cranial remoulding helmet guides the growth of your child’s head in the right direction to become more symmetrical and is often used in conjunction with repositioning and exercises to resolve flat head syndrome.

How long do you wear a plagiocephaly helmet?

The best time to start helmet treatment is between the age of 4 to 10 months as this is the time of rapid growth of the skull.  

The average treatment duration is between 4 to 5 months with treatment usually finishing around 12 months of age.  However, this will be dependent on when growth spurts occur so a helmet may need to be worn for longer periods of time.  

The single most important factor determining treatment success is compliance with wearing time. Your baby needs to wear the orthosis for 23 hours per day. Although this might seem like a challenge, it will all be worth it with a much-improved head shape.

When do you need a helmet for plagiocephaly?

Plagiocephaly, also known as flat head syndrome, is a common condition affecting many babies. Flattening of the head may happen if a baby lies with their head in the same position for a long time or can also be caused by tight muscles in the neck.

Plagiocephaly does not usually affect the development of a baby's brain, but if left untreated, may change their physical appearance due to the uneven growth of their face and head. An orthotist can assess the severity of your baby’s head shape using a high precision 3D scan. For moderate to severe asymmetrical and flat head shapes, orthotic treatment using a helmet is an effective solution.

A cranial remoulding helmet works by guiding the growth of your child’s the head in the necessary direction to become more symmetrical.  If you are concerned about your child's head shape, you should speak to an orthotist about whether a helmet is the right option for your child.

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