How to Clean a Plagiocephaly Helmet

Cleaning Your Baby’s Helmet to Minimise Odours and Itching

Cleaning your baby's helmetOn our Facebook page, parent friends have recently been asking how to clean a plagiocephaly helmet. The response was fantastic, so we thought we would publish some of the best suggestions on here to help others who might be in the same situation.

While a plagiocephaly helmet is a safe form of treatment with no detrimental effect on cranial growth, it can often start to get a bit smelly. People who have to wear a helmet for work or use a cast for a broken bone find the same. The odour is caused by sweat and natural skin oils, so is especially common in babies with long hair and during the warmer months of the year. Some babies can also experience minor sweat rash or redness on the scalp.

Although none of these symptoms are anything to worry about, regularly cleaning your baby’s helmet can prevent smells, skin irritation and itching. Here are some suggestions from parents on how to clean a plagiocephaly helmet, so you can keep it smelling fresh and minimise any unpleasant side effects.

How to Clean a Plagiocephaly Helmet: Top Tips from Parents

Regular Cleaning

Many parents prefer to stay one step ahead of nasty smells by giving the plagiocephaly helmet a wipe once or twice a day, using either a clean damp cloth, sponge or baby wipe. Some apply diluted tea tree oil (1 part tea tree oil to 20 parts water (5%)) or a diluted disinfectant like Dettol or Milton sterilising fluid inside the helmet and out, to keep odours at bay. If you’re using disinfectant, wipe the inner shell afterwards with a clean, damp sponge or baby wipe to prevent the solution from irritating the skin. Wipe the helmet dry with a clean towel and make sure the inside is completely dry before placing back on your baby’s head.

In the meantime, clean your baby’s hair and head using a regular baby shampoo or an extra gentle one like Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Shampoo & Wash. Some parents add tea tree oil (up to 10 drops in a full bottle shaken well) for extra freshness. Massage the head gently to relieve any itching, then rinse thoroughly and dry completely using a soft towel before replacing the helmet. Talcum powder is sometimes used to help keep the head dry. Just remember to keep an eye on the scalp after application, as talc can sometimes irritate sensitive skin.

Deep Cleaning

Once a week, or whenever the plagiocephaly helmet gets particularly stinky, you might wish to give it a deeper clean. Apply a gentle tea tree or baby shampoo to the helmet, inside and out. Rinse with boiling water from the kettle, taking care not to pour this directly onto the glue around the edges.

You should always make sure the helmet is completely dry before replacing it on your baby’s head, otherwise it could rub. Blow dry using a hair dryer on a low setting or rub with a towel, then leave it to air out – either in the sun, next to a fan or on a warm (but not hot) radiator.

Itchy Scalp Prevention and Relief

It can seem scary when your baby starts scratching, but this is perfectly normal and generally nothing to worry about. Imagine wearing a bicycle helmet for 23 hours then taking it off. It makes you want to give your head a good scratch just thinking about it!

A certain amount of rubbing and scratching is healthy. However, you should keep your baby’s fingernails short to prevent damage to the surface of the skin, and if you are particularly concerned, you could also try mittens. Some parents gently rub the scalp themselves, relieving the itch while preventing the damage and dryness that might occur if the baby were left to his or her own devices.

When the helmet is off, apply a small amount of Sudocrem or eczema cream to any affected areas, such as the forehead, cheeks, the back of the neck and behind the ears. This should help relieve any itching and redness, but if you still have concerns you should contact the clinic.

Keeping Your Baby Cool

Finally, you should do what you can to keep your baby cool – especially in light of the hot, humid weather we’re experiencing in the UK at the moment. Dress them in light clothes – short sleeves, short pants and no socks – and bring thin extra layers out with you if you think they might be needed. If possible, keep the hair short to prevent excess sweating around the scalp area. It’s usually only the parents of boys who ask if they should cut their babies’ hair; girls’ parents tend not to and they don’t seem to have any problems. Whatever you choose to do, don’t shave the head too close as this can end up being just as uncomfortable.How to clean a plagiocephaly helmet

We hope this guide has given you a plenty of ideas as to how to clean a plagiocephaly helmet. We would like to thank all the parents who contributed their great suggestions – your help and support is always greatly appreciated by other parents, and by us here at Technology in Motion. If there’s anything we’ve missed, please let us know on Facebook.

Alternatively, if you would like to enquire about a helmet for flat head syndrome or require any further advice on helmet care and maintenance, contact our plagiocephaly specialists today on 0330 100 1800

Does Flat Head Syndrome Affect the Eyes?

The Link Between Flat Head Syndrome and Visual Defects

Does flat head syndrome affect the eyesAs flat head syndrome in babies has continued to rise, so too has speculation regarding a possible link between flat head syndrome and visual defects. Head shape deformities are thought to be linked to an increased likelihood of developing conditions like strabismus (eye misalignment) and anisometropia (significantly different prescriptions in the two eyes). But what is the nature of this relationship? Does flat head syndrome affect the eyes directly, or is the situation more complex?

As with much research in this area, a causal link between flat head syndrome and visual defects has not been established. A dearth of empirical evidence has led to much speculation but no definitive answers. However, we can gain at least some insight from the small amount of literature available on the subject as well as several individual reports from parents and clinicians.

Flat Head Syndrome and Visual Defects

In his review of the literature on occipital plagiocephaly*, Rekate notes a prevalence of strabismus, especially that involving vertical eye movements, amongst patients with severe forms of the disorder. He admits that few reports document the late effects of occipital plagiocephaly, including visual disturbances, and does not attempt to explain a mechanism underlying the proposed link. However, it appears that there is some kind of difference in children with plagiocephaly compared to their peers in respect of visual disturbances.

While we might not know the precise nature of the relationship between severe flat head syndrome and visual defects, it does seem logical that being affected by the former might increase the chances of developing the latter. If the head is asymmetrical, it makes sense that this could affect facial symmetry, in turn affecting the eyes.

Plagiocephaly awareness websites and individual accounts from parents imply that there might well be a link between flat head syndrome and visual defects. Conversations on forums and social networking sites offer some insight into the key concerns of clinicians, parents and activists on the matter. Here are three such examples:

  • “The condition can be mild to severe and may cause asymmetry to the baby’s head, face, eyes, jaw and ears.”  - Positional Plagiocephaly information page on CAPPS
  • “In severe cases of plagiocephaly, the baby’s entire face can appear uneven. The eyes, ears and other facial features will be out of alignment and appear uneven as well.”  – Flat Head Syndrome information page on i-am-pregnant.com
  • “My little girl has flattening on her right side with her right eye smaller than her left (not the usual presentation).  I have just seen a plastic surgeon who has told me that it is because the skin around her eye on the left side has become tighter due to the plagio pushing the right side of her head across to the left (rather than forward).” – thread on Babycentre.com

Advice for Parents

The usual advice from doctors and health visitors is that flat head syndrome is ‘just cosmetic’ so there’s no need to worry. However, even if this statement is true it still does not rule out the potential for misalignment of the eyes – whether they are in good working order or not. Such advice fails to account for the potential emotional and social issues that can unfortunately arise as a result of having misaligned facial features, whether or not this affects the vision.

Even if flat head syndrome does not affect the eyes directly, the fact that severely affected children constitute a high risk group for visual disturbances is still cause for concern. If you have a baby with a flat head, we recommend that you remain vigilant of potential complications and contact your clinic if you have any worries.

Flat head syndrome and visual defectsTechnology in Motion manufactures and supplies the TiMBand for children with severe forms of flat head syndrome. This custom made flat head helmet gently corrects the head shape as the skull grows, giving visible and permanent results. If you would like to book an appointment, or would like further advice on flat head syndrome and visual defects, call them today on 0330 100 1800 and one of their expert Orthotists will be happy to help.

*Source: Rekate HL. Occipital plagiocephaly: a critical review of the literature. J Online. 1997:1–14,  cited in http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/105/2/e26.full#ref-6

How to Prevent Injuries and Pains When Cycling

Whether it’s for leisure or sport, or simply for getting from A to B, cycling is a fantastic way to keep fit. However, as with every other physical activity, it does carry a risk of injury. With the Tour de France kicking off in Yorkshire with the Grand Départ this weekend, we have some important advice to help you prevent pains when cycling and reduce the risk of injury.

Preventing Common Injuries and Pains When Cycling

Preventing pains when cyclingPerhaps unsurprisingly, the most common cycling pains centre around the lower body. If the bones, muscles and joints in this region are not correctly aligned, the repetitive, circular motion of pedalling can lead to pains in the hips, thighs, knees, calves, ankles and feet.

The best way to prevent pains when cycling is to ensure that all these parts of the body are parallel to the frame of the bicycle. First, check that the saddle is the correct height by sitting in it with your feet in the pedals and extending one leg. When the crank arm is perpendicular to the ground, your leg should be completely straight. Your arms should be at about 90 degrees to your torso and the ball of your foot centred over the pedal.

An unsteady pedal stroke is the cause of many aches and pains when cycling. You want your legs to be going straight up and down in a piston-like movement, without any wobble on the knees. If you struggle with this motion or experience pain when doing so, this might be down to an underlying physical condition, in which case cycling orthotics may be required.

How Cycling Orthotics Can Help

Cycling pains often originate from biomechanical defects such as pronation, where the foot rolls outwards at the ankle. This leaves the cyclist no choice but to rotate their leg inwards in order to compensate, so that they can keep their foot on the pedal. Eventually, this can tear the knee cartilage and ligaments and cause aches and pains in the inner half of the ball of the foot, and even throughout the entire lower body.

Orthotics for cyclingOther common biomechanical defects that can lead to pains when cycling include bowlegs, knock knees, short leg syndrome, Achilles tendonitis and shin splints. Sports injuries such as ACL tears, as well as degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis, can also limit the range of movement in the lower body, forcing cyclists to change the way they pedal and, again, placing a great deal of strain on the muscles and joints.

If you are unable to cycle in a ‘piston-like’ motion with your feet squarely on the pedals, cycling orthotics can help. Designed to compensate for weakness and abnormal rotation, they can improve the alignment of the lower body, increasing efficiency and reducing cycling pains.

A Case for Cycling Orthotics: Greg LeMond, Three-Time Tour de France Winner

Greg LeMond, the first non-European professional cyclist to win the Tour de France back in 1986, suffered an unlikely and horrific accident the following year when turkey hunting, where his brother-in-law accidentally shot him. He made a miraculous recovery and returned to his favourite activity in 1988, but unfortunately overtrained and developed tendonitis that required surgery.

Amazingly, the following year he went on to achieve what was dubbed “the most astonishing victory in Tour de France history,”1 overtaking rival Laurent Fignon in the final stage against all odds and reaching the fastest average speed ever ridden in the Tour. LeMond is believed to have said at the time that he couldn’t have done so without custom cycling orthotics2. He went on to win again the following year, making him one of just seven cyclists to have won the Tour de France three or more times.Cycling orthotics

When it comes to the dramatic benefits that cycling orthotics can bring, LeMond’s case is not unique. Many amateur and pro cyclists rely on them to keep pain to a minimum and enhance their performance. Even if you only cycle 10 minutes to and from work each day, doing so incorrectly can cause unnecessary wear and tear, leading to pain, discomfort and, potentially, degeneration of the joints. Good quality cycling orthotics can increase stability, enabling you to continue with the activities you enjoy for many more years to come.

Technology in Motion provides sports injury treatment and quality orthotic solutions for cycling pains caused by biomechanical defects, degenerative diseases, tears to ligaments and cartilage, and more. From orthopaedic shoes to custom cycling orthotics, they can help you find the right solution to suit your lifestyle. Call them on 0330 100 1800 or go to www.technologyinmotion.com

References

  1. Wilcockson, John (1989). LeMond’s dramatic Tour comeback. In VeloNews Editors. Bicycle Racing in the Modern Era: 25 Years of Velonews. Boulder, CO: VeloPress. p. 81
  2. Custom Orthotics, on The Cycling Blog: http://thecyclingblog.com/2010/10/06/custom-orthotics/

Plagiocephaly: ‘Just’ Cosmetic?

Is Plagiocephaly Cosmetic Rather than Medical? (And If So, Why Bother With Treatment?)

Is plagiocephaly just cosmeticThe majority of children with plagiocephaly are unable to get helmet treatment on the NHS. Doctors often say that the condition is only cosmetic so treatment is unnecessary. But is plagiocephaly just cosmetic, or could it be associated with developmental issues? And even if it is ‘just’ cosmetic, could this cause problems in itself? This post investigates the research that has been carried out to date, and answers some of the questions you might have if your baby has a flat head.

Is Plagiocephaly Just Cosmetic?

The question of whether plagiocephaly is just cosmetic or may be associated with other problems has been investigated, although the linking is subtle as research in this area is not easy to undertake. The studies that have been done suggest that plagiocephaly might be associated with developmental issues, especially motor delays. However, the cause and effect relationship cannot be established, so one cannot say for certain whether plagiocephaly contributes to such problems or vice versa.

Is plagiocephaly cosmeticResearch has investigated the possible linkage between plagiocephaly and conditions that may arise as a result of facial asymmetry. These include mandibular asymmetry (misshaping of the jaw) and otitis media (ear infections) as well as visual defects and orthodontic issues.* While the underlying mechanisms have not been explored, Miller et al. conclude that:

Infants with deformational plagiocephaly comprise a high-risk group for developmental difficulties presenting as subtle problems of cerebral dysfunction during the school-age years.

They point out that further research is required to investigate long-term developmental issues amongst babies with plagiocephaly. So currently, we are unable to answer the question, ‘is plagiocephaly just cosmetic?’, with much clarity. For the time being, parents should be aware of these potential issues and keep a careful eye on their children in case any of them should arise.

What if Plagiocephaly is Just Cosmetic?

When doctors say that plagiocephaly is ‘just’, ‘only’ or ‘merely’ cosmetic, they are essentially saying that there is usually no life-limiting or fundamental disease issue present, but failing to address the fact that a head shape deformity can be a problem in itself. Even if plagiocephaly is non-threatening, that doesn’t necessarily mean that nothing should be done about it.

Take the ‘just’ out of this sentence and, yes it is a cosmetic issue. The question then becomes, can or should anything be done to correct this? We all know that people make all sorts of cosmetic changes to their bodies, using cosmetics, hair styling, tattoos, piercings, tooth bracing and even surgery to achieve a certain look. These are self image decisions that adults make. In that case, what decisions should a parent make on behalf of their baby and how are any of these actions any different to improving a baby’s head shape, which must be done when the infant is very young?

Unlike some of the changes listed above, treatment for plagiocephaly is not started only to reflect popular and cultural trends or to mark oneself out as an individual, but to be part of the normal group. Sadly, our and many other societies view symmetry and normal head shape as attractive personal characteristics. Those who don’t fit into this group can be subject to criticism by their peers, potentially leading to emotional and psychosocial issues as they grow through to adult life.

There are also the more practical issues of the limitations that may be placed upon a person with an asymmetric or abnormally shaped head. They may find difficulties in wearing glasses, certain hairstyles or protective helmets for work or leisure activities. This in turn can limit their career and leisure options and prevents them from following certain trends – again, to the detriment of their confidence.

Treatment for plagiocephaly

 

Whether plagiocephaly is ‘just’ cosmetic or not, treatment may be well worth considering. Our experienced Orthotists at Technology in Motion can assess the severity of your child’s deformity and help you decide whether or not treatment would be the right option. To find out more, visit our website or call us on 0330 100 1800

 

* Rekate HL. Occipital plagiocephaly: a critical review of the literature. J Online. 1997:1–14. Cited in Long-term developmental outcomes in patients with deformational plagiocephaly. Pediatrics. 2000: 105 2.

Do Knee Supports Help with Osteoarthritis?

Knee Supports and Osteoarthritis: Separating Myth from Reality

Knee supports and osteoarthritisWhile there may be no known cure for osteoarthritis of the knee, there are several things you can do to  reduce the strain on your joints. Common suggestions include pacing your activities throughout the day, modifying your home and workspace, and walking with a stick or knee support. The question is, do knee supports help with osteoarthritis, or do they simply help to relieve the pain? This post lays bare the facts about knee supports and osteoarthritis, helping you decide whether or not they are the right solution for you.

Do Knee Supports Help with Osteoarthritis?

First, we must differentiate between the two most common types of knee support used for osteoarthritis:

Fabric sleeve knee supports: these are usually made of neoprene, a rubbery elastic material, and are the most basic kind of knee support. They are available from most chemists, and you might have seen people wearing them for sports or following a minor injury or strain. Although not specifically designed to for osteoarthritis of the knee, they can offer some relief for those with mild forms of the condition, providing compression, warmth and support.

Unloader knee braces: these are semi-rigid orthotic braces made from a combination of moulded plastic and foam. They apply a gentle force to separate the affected bone joint surfaces, literally unloading the strain on the side of the knee affected by osteoarthritis. This is clinically proven to relieve pain and increase mobility, even amongst those with moderate and severe forms of osteoarthritis.

So the answer to the question of whether knee supports help with osteoarthritis is yes – assuming you choose the correct type.

Knee Supports and Osteoarthritis: Which Type Should You Choose?

Fabric knee supports may offer some relief for those with osteoarthritis in the early stages, but fail to provide the corrective, long-term support given by unloading orthotic bracing. Fabric sleeves need to be very snug to offer any kind of benefit, and will slip and bunch around the knee, especially behind the knee, if they’re too loose. On the other hand, if they’re too tight they can end up being too restrictive, further limiting mobility and increasing discomfort. If choosing a fabric knee support, you should therefore make sure you choose one of high quality. Your local orthotic company will have some good recommendations.

Do knee supports help with osteoarthritisWhatever stage of arthritis you have, an unloading brace will provide the benefit of a longer term solution. An unloader knee brace reduces the amount of wear and tear on the affected joint, allowing the inflammation to settle, reducing pain and extending the life of the affected knee joint. So, unloader knee braces don’t just offer pain relief but can also help to slow down the degeneration of the knee joint, in turn delaying the need for surgery. You can continue to participate in everyday physical activities with reduced pain and discomfort, without compromising on their intensity or endurance.

If you would like to benefit from the long term advantages offered by the unloader knee brace, we recommend Össur’s Unloader One®. This is lightweight, streamlined and unobtrusive, and has the greatest unloading leverage of any such device to date. Click here to read about one man’s experiences of the Unloader One®

Osteoarthritis of the knee

For further advice regarding knee supports and osteoarthritis, or to book an appointment with an expert Orthotist, contact Technology in Motion on 0330 100 1800. We can help you find the best solution to suit your lifestyle, enabling you to return to your everyday activities with confidence.

Carry Cots, Car Seats and Flat Head Syndrome

Do Baby Carriers and Car Seats Cause Flat Head Syndrome?

The dramatic rise in the incidence of baby flat head syndrome over the last couple of decades has largely been attributed to the Back to Sleep Campaign. Placing babies on the back to sleep is essential as a means of reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but if the baby is kept in one position, it can put continual pressure on the back of the head, which can eventually cause a flat spot to emerge.

However, it’s not just babies’ sleeping positions that cause the problem; their activity (or lack of) while awake is just as important. Increasingly, experts have been seeing links between long periods spent sitting in car seats and flat head syndrome – in terms of both incidence and severity. This can also have implications for overall muscle and neural development.

In this new generation of what childcare experts have deemed ‘bucket babies’, carrying devices such as buggies and car seats have become the norm. Manufacturers are coming up with increasingly sophisticated ways to make parents’ lives easier, with prams that transform into pushchairs and car seats that become Moses baskets at the press of a button. Unfortunately in this case, parents’ convenience comes at the expense of the babies themselves.

Not only does the overuse of such devices contribute to the likelihood of babies developing flat head syndromes such as deformational plagiocephaly; it also prevents them from using their muscles as much as they might. This can impair development and potentially cause the spine, hip and shoulder muscles to remain weaker than they should be for the age that the baby is at. Issues such as these and muscular conditions like torticollis, a muscle imbalance in the neck, prevent normal muscle development from happening as it should.

Car Seats and Flat Head Syndrome: What to Remember

Of course, when you’re taking your baby somewhere in the car, a car seat is essential. However, many parents also use them as carrying devices when they’re out and about and even at home, when really their use should be restricted to short car journeys.

Car seats and flat head syndome - repositioningIn fact, most devices used to carry or transport babies, including carry cots, buggies and prams, should only be used when absolutely necessary. As a general rule, you should try to remove pressure from the back at head for at least 50% of the time your baby is awake. This can be achieved by holding them in your arms rather than using a carrier, through ‘tummy time’, and by using a carry sling or backpack carrier, as these don’t apply pressure to the back of the head.

Acclimatised bucket babies often find it difficult to get used to this new way of life, but there are several techniques you can employ to make the process run more smoothly. These can be found here.

What to Do if  Your Baby Still Has a Flat Head

If after several weeks of reducing the amount of time your baby spends in car seats and other carrying devices the flat spot hasn’t improved as much as you had hoped, there is another option. By the age of four or five months it is unlikely that the condition will improve greatly without specialist flat head syndrome treatment by means of a helmet.

Car seats and flat head syndrome - mirrorThese gradually remould the skull over a 3 – 6 month period, correcting the head shape gently, visibly and permanently.

Technology in Motion has been providing this treatment for 10 years with a success rate of over 95%. Browse our website for more information on our clinics and services; alternatively, call 0113 218 8030 to enquire about TiMband treatment or for further advice on baby carriers, car seats and flat head syndrome.

BMJ Plagiocephaly Study is ‘Severely Flawed’

Top UK Plagiocephaly Expert Says BMJ Plagiocephaly study is Misleading

A recent report on plagiocephaly treatment has come under fire from leading clinicians, both here in the UK and around the world. The study, published in the British Medical Journal last week, compared infants with moderate head shape deformities in treated and non-treated groups, concluding that there is little difference in result between the two groups. However, the BMJ plagiocephaly study was inherently flawed and experts warn that it gives an extremely biased view of what is widely regarded as a safe and highly effective form of treatment.

Problems with the report include:

  • Unsound selection protocols
  • Flawed treatment regimes
  • High drop-out rate for the treated group (66% to 73% which continued to be reported as a treated group)
  • Selective reporting of data
  • Combining of data regarding different head shapes
  • Averaging of the data, which masks the individual improvement that infants may have achieved
BMJ plagiocephaly helmet study

Image taken from Dutch current affairs programme EenVandaag

A subjective and generous definition of severity was developed internally by the study group. This does not take into account the statistical range of head shape deformity in the population.

Furthermore, the treatment regimes that the group offered were not described or critiqued. It is clear that infants had been provided with poorly fitting and uncomfortable helmets that rotated and rubbed, subjecting them to unnecessary pain and discomfort. This would have had a significant effect on parental compliance and the final outcomes of the treatment.

Steve Mottram, Managing Director and Consultant Orthotist at Technology in Motion, says:

The way that the data has been presented mixes all head shape deformities and therefore minimises the specific effect for each type. It’s like reporting on 10 children who had broken arms and 10 who had broken legs. Combining the data ‘proves’ that only 50% of children with fractures recovered from a broken arm. The way that the data has been presented makes it meaningless and in this case, huge and misleading assumptions have been drawn from the results.

Baby with plagiocephaly helmet

The BMJ plagiocephaly study does not reflect the results achieved by the TiMband, which gives excellent correction in over 95% of cases. We advise and educate on repositioning and only 70% of the infants that we see require TiMband treatment. We at Technology in Motion are proud of our results and the professional care and attention that we give to our patients.

We have been working for over ten years in this field and our ongoing mission is to educate and advise professionals and parents, and to treat infants who have head shape deformities with a view to reducing the severity and incidence of these distressing conditions.

We would like to reassure the parents who seek advice and treatment from us that all infants are assessed and treated as individuals. Each one achieves excellent results with minimal problems and no pain or discomfort similar to that which was identified by the report. The reported issues do not correspond with our experience or those of the parents and infants that we treat.

If you would like to enquire about treatment or have any unanswered questions regarding the recent BMJ plagiocephaly study, call our expert team on 0330 100 1800.

Our Response to the Recent BMJ Plagiocephaly Report

Open Letter from Expert Clinician Addresses Issues with Dutch Plagiocephaly Report

Dear Parents, Physicians, Concerned Health Care Professionals

A recent report from a group in the Netherlands regarding plagiocephaly treatment published in the British Medical Journal has raised significant media interest.

The report describes comparison of results between infants with moderate head shape deformities in treated and non-treated groups and concludes that there is little difference in result between the two groups.

In common with others who help infants here in the UK and in the rest of the world, we regard the report as severely flawed due to several reasons including: selection protocols, flawed treatment regimes, high drop-out rate for the treated group (66% to 73% which continued to be reported as a treated group), selective reporting of data, combining data regarding differing head shapes, and averaging of the data, which masks the individual improvement that infants may have achieved.

An internally developed, subjective and generous definition of severity was developed by the study group. This does not take note of the statistical range of head shape deformity in the population.

Treatment regimes offered were not described or critiqued and it was obvious that infants had been provided with poorly fitting and uncomfortable helmets which rotated, rubbed and caused problems during wear. This would have had significant effect on parent compliance and final outcome of the treatments offered.

This study from the Netherlands does not reflect the results achieved by the TiMband, with excellent correction in over 95% of the infants that we treat. We advise and educate on repositioning and only 70% of the infants that we see require TiMband treatment. We at Technology in Motion are proud of our results and the professional care and attention that we give to our patients.

We have been working for over ten years in this field and our ongoing mission is to educate and advise professionals and parents and treat infants who have head shape deformities with a view to reducing the severity and incidence of these distressing conditions.

We would like to reassure the parents who seek advice and treatment from us that all infants are assessed and treated as individuals. Each one achieves excellent results with minimal problems and no pain or discomfort similar to that which was identified in the report. The reported issues do not correspond with our experience or those of the parents and infants that we treat. We have written to the author and will be writing to the Editor to express our concerns regarding this report.

Sincerely

Steve Mottram MBAPO

Managing Director and Consultant Orthotist

What Happens at a Plagiocephaly Evaluation?

What to Expect at Your First Plagiocephaly Appointment

If you have noticed a flat spot on your baby’s head and are considering going for a plagiocephaly evaluation, there are probably several questions running through your mind. How will the condition be assessed? Will it be painful or frightening for my baby? And supposing that my baby does have plagiocephaly, what happens next? Will they tell me the truth?

First of all, we would like to assure you that plagiocephaly evaluations are completely pain-free, as is the treatment itself. Assuming that you choose an established, reputable clinic with qualified and experienced practitioners, you have absolutely nothing to worry about.

So what will happen at your baby’s first plagiocephaly appointment? Well, the specifics vary between clinical companies, but this post should at least give you an idea of what to expect from a plagiocephaly evaluation, whether you see one of Technology in Motion’s clinicians or go elsewhere.

Plagiocephaly Evaluation: The Process

Plagiocephaly evaluationIn a plagiocephaly evaluation, the clinician, usually an Orthotist, should take a detailed history from birth to the time that you come to see them. They should ask about the type of birth, the position of the baby and when you first noticed the flattening, and then evaluate your baby’s development to date. They should measure the head circumference and take two sets of measurements – width and length, and across the ‘corners’ – to allow them to assess the severity of the condition.

Having gathered all the necessary information, your Orthotist should explain the treatment options. At Technology in Motion, we don’t recommend treatment for normal or mild head shapes as they are within the least severe 95% of the population. If your baby is less than four months old you should be advised to continue repositioning to see if this will help to improve the head shape and reduce any asymmetry or excess width / length. Repositioning involves encouraging your baby to vary the position of the head while playing, feeding and sleeping – you might well have already heard about tummy time, for example. Please note that your baby must always be placed on the back to sleep to lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

UK NHS advice is that repositioning always works, and to some extent this is true especially for mild head deformities. However, moderate and severe cases will always retain some deformity even with repositioning unless you take other measures to improve it. We have seen many severe and advanced cases of deformational plagiocephaly in older infants where the asymmetry is still very noticeable, even when advice regarding repositioning has been followed to the letter. If this is the case and/or your baby is over four months old, repositioning is unlikely to be fully effective. Once babies reach this age they start to move more independently, making it almost impossible to encourage them to sit or lie in a certain way.

Sometimes at an assessment a scan is taken to bring up a 3D image of the head shape. Don’t worry – this is a safe, quick and pain-free process and Technology in Motion only uses photographic scanning methods with no lasers. If the asymmetry is moderate or severe, i.e. in the top 5% most severe of the infant population, and your baby is too old to benefit from repositioning, your Orthotist will suggest using a TiMband flat head helmet.Baby with flat head helmet

These gently correct the position and shape of the bones in the skull as the head grows, and cause absolutely no pain or discomfort. They been shown to improve the overall symmetry and proportions of babies’ head shapes, restoring them to what is accepted within our society as the norm.

Depending on the starting age (4 to 14 months), treatment takes three to six months and is most effective when carried out on babies aged between four and seven months. Improvement can still be seen even when treatment is started as late as at fourteen months. Unfortunately, starting treatment after this time renders it minimally effective as the majority of growth has already been achieved and there is little left to help bring about correction. If your baby is older and you are uncertain whether this kind of treatment is for you, please talk to your Orthotist.

What to Expect at Technology in Motion

Plagiocephaly scanAt Technology in Motion, we offer a free, no obligation plagiocephaly evaluation in which we will assess the severity of the problem and help you decide on the right course of treatment for your baby. We have the latest baby-friendly photographic scanning equipment, which we will use to take 3D images of your baby’s head. This gives us incredibly precise measurements, enabling us to provide you with accurate data regarding the extent of the deformity.

Our practice is completely unique in that at the end of the first plagiocephaly appointment we issue all parents with a USB stick containing visual and statistical data that can be reviewed later on at home. If treatment is required and you choose to go ahead with it, we refer to this and manual measurement data to monitor the progress your baby makes during treatment.

Before and after plagiocephaly scans

When making a helmet, our Orthotists use data from the scan to form a mould of the desired head shape. The helmet is then custom-made based on this model and then fitted around two weeks later. Our helmets consist of a semi soft closed cell foam liner with a polythene copolymer shell, which makes them lightweight, comfortable and durable.

By choosing Technology in Motion to treat your baby’s flat head syndrome, you can benefit from an all-inclusive treatment plan with no hidden costs. This includes the initial scan as well as regular appointments (after two weeks then at two- to four-week intervals, depending on the age of your child) to check up on progress and adjust the helmet. You will also have access to clinical and phone support whenever you need it and all scans, reports and letters required by your GP will also be covered.

To book a plagiocephaly evaluation in one of our clinics, call us on 0330 100 1800

Is There a Relationship Between Plagiocephaly and Ear Infections?

The relationship between plagiocephaly and ear infections recently came up in discussion on our Facebook page. In light of this, we thought we would share with you what is currently known about the link between plagiocephaly and otitis media (middle ear infections), bearing in mind that research in this area is limited.

What is Otitis Media?

The term ‘otitis media’ can be directly translated from Latin as inflammation of the middle ear. The infection is very common in childhood but can also occur later in life. It is caused by a blockage in the Eustachian (auditory) tube, which affects drainage of the middle ear, leading to earache and sometimes fever.

Plagiocephaly and Ear Infections

To the best of our knowledge, only one empirical study has been conducted specifically to investigate the link between plagiocephaly and ear infections.Plagiocephaly and ear infections

In 2009, Adam Purzycki and his colleagues at Wake Forest University Medical Center (Winston-Salem, NC) looked at the incidence of otitis media in children with plagiocephaly. They referred to the endemic rate of otitis media amongst children with a cleft palate, which is also associated with structural abnormalities in the middle ear. Purzycki and his team proposed that since positional plagiocephaly can also result in abnormal positioning of the ears, this too might increase the risk of ear infections.

They issued the parents of affected children with a retrospective questionnaire which asked them to report the number of ear infections their children had suffered. Around 50.4% reported at least one ear infection by the age of one. This is not drastically different from the rate of the condition in the normal population (as reported by the Center for Disease Control), which would suggest that plagiocephaly in infants does not increase their susceptibility to otitis media.

However, Purzycki also points out that the incidence of otitis media correlates directly with the severity of deformational plagiocephaly. While this trend is also statistically insignificant, tests of the middle ear that were run alongside the questionnaire showed that a disproportionate number of infants with plagiocephaly also had Eustachian tube dysfunction.

Purzycki’s research indicates that there is a relationship between plagiocephaly and ear infections. However, this relationship requires further investigation if its nature is to be fully understood.

Implications for Parents

For the time being, if your child has plagiocephaly and otitis media you should keep an eye on the symptoms, which often clear up by themselves without the need for medical help. If they haven’t improved after 24 hours, your child is in a lot of pain or there is fluid coming out of the ear, you should contact your GP.Plagiocephaly helmet

If your child has moderate to severe plagiocephaly, you could also look into helmet treatment. This will help correct the asymmetry of the head, realigning the ears and potentially reducing the risk of infection. To find out more, please browse our website or call us on 0113 218 8030.

 

Reference

Incidence of Otitis Media in Children with Deformational Plagiocephaly

Purzycki A1, Thompson E, Argenta L, David L.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19816267