Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Benefits of Your Child Wearing a Plagiocephaly Helmet

Benefits of a Flat Head Helemt

Plagiocephaly remodelling bands or helmets are a safe, non-invasive treatment for an asymmetric or unusually wide head shape. They do not interfere with his or her emotional or social development and are similar in action to teeth bracing in older children and young adults. The helmets are lightweight and available with a range of patterns. They let babies continue to be babies, but ensure corrective alignment and a more normal head shape that will allow your little one to participate fully throughout schools years and into adulthood. Here we discuss the benefits of a Plagiocephaly helmet.

What Is Plagiocephaly?

Plagiocephaly is the medical term for a common condition in which the back or one side of an infant’s skull shows significant flattening. It is often noticed as the bald patch that infants develop appears to be on the flattened side of the head. Clinical reports estimate that plagiocephaly may affect as many as one out of every 30 infants. Babies are born with soft, mouldable skulls so that they can pass through the birth canal and continue to be flexible to accommodate the rapid brain growth that occurs in the first two years after birth. When infants spend a lot of time sleeping with their heads in one position, a positional or developmental plagiocephaly may result.

In most cases, the early signs of positional plagiocephaly are detected by parents or grandparents and the first thing to do is to simply by reposition the head away from the flattening while he or she sleeps. Babies must always be placed on their back to sleep. Some infants with a flattening will need more targeted intervention and this can be physiotherapy or osteopathy to help release a tight muscle allowing full range of motion in the neck. If this is unsuccessful, a helmet will return the head shape to a more normal shape gently and quickly. If you do decide that helmet therapy is the appropriate choice, there is plenty of help and advice available to you.

Helmet Therapy for Plagiocephaly

Helmet therapy works by applying a gentle, continuous pressure to your baby’s developing skull, rounding it out throughout the day. This pressure does not hurt, and once your baby gets used to wearing this new piece of clothing, it will not interfere with any of your baby’s normal developmental activities. The helmet is adjusted so that your baby’s head can keep growing normally. It is made to an accurate photographic scan of your baby’s head shape and is made of light foam with a semi flexible shell is moulded. Helmet therapy may be recommended between four and five months if repositioning therapy has proven ineffective. Treatment effectiveness varies with the age of the infant and the severity of the plagiocephaly, but in most cases, your infant will usually wear the helmet for about five months.

Advantages of Helmet Treatment

There are many advantages to plagiocephaly helmet therapy. It will lead to a more normal symmetric skull shape, which will allow children to participate more fully in sports activities for which they will need to wear protective headgear. A more symmetric skull means more symmetrical facial features! This can affect many aspects of your child’s subsequent life.
Helmet therapy will also reduce disorders that may occur in later life due to asymmetry. Many dentists now believe that TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) is due to a misalignment of the jaw. TMJ is often linked to severe pain and speech disorders in its adult sufferers.

Helmet treatment, when indicated, will help your baby with plagiocephaly grow into the happy, healthy child with all the potential for future life
Since 2003 Technology in Motion has been providing treatment for plagiocephaly and brachycephaly (flat head syndrome), conditions which involve the deformation of the head of an infant.

What is Plagiocephaly and Brachycephaly or Flat Head Syndrome?

What is Plagiocephaly and Brachycephaly or Flat Head Syndrome?

What is Plagiocephaly and Brachycephaly or Flat Head Syndrome, are the most frequently asked questions Orthotists are asked. Plagiocephaly is the word that is used to describe a diagonal asymmetry across the head shape. This word particularly describes a flattening which is to one side at the back of the head and there is often some facial asymmetry. Brachycephaly describes a very wide head shape with a flattening across the whole back of the head. We usually see babies who have a combination of these two problems.

Brachycephaly & Plagiocephaly

Symmetric brachycephaly before treatment

Parents usually notice that their baby has an irregular shaped head at about 8 weeks old and are usually told that it will correct itself naturally and that it is just cosmetic.
Our advice is that as soon as flattening is noticed, then a parent should immediately start to reposition their baby. You can find information on this on our repositioning guide. This can assist in preventing the condition worsening and hopefully start to see improvement starting. If natural improvement of the plagiocephaly available it will happen in these first early few weeks of life. For an infant under four months of age we recommend repositioning.

Will my baby’s plagiocephaly self correct?

Our experience is that if the plagiocephaly or brachycephaly is not improving on its own by five months of age then it probably won’t improve greatly without some assistance. The treatment that we use to correct flat head syndrome is a PlagioCare treatment which rapidly accelerates return to a normal head shape. Treatment time for plagiocephaly depends on a baby’s age and takes between three to six months. The image below shows before and after images in a typical case of plagiocephaly with a brachycephaly. This little boy achieved this result after only nine weeks of treatment.
Since 2003 Technology in Motion has been providing treatment for plagiocephaly and brachycephaly, conditions which describe a head shape deformation. We usually have over 100 infants in treatment at any one time and we are widely regarded as the leading clinical team managing flat head syndrome.

What Is Flat Head Syndrome?

Understanding Flat Head Syndrome

Flat Head Syndrome is a general term applied to infants whose cranial development results in a flat area on the back or side of the head (deformational asymmetry). The deformation may be present at birth, or may become apparent during the first few months of the infant’s life. The two most common forms of the syndrome are plagiocephaly and brachycephaly. The term plagiocephaly is used to describe a flattening at the side of the head in the parietal region, above and behind the ear. Facial asymmetry may be noticeable on the forehead and there may be misalignment of the eyes and ears. When the flattening extends across the back of the head and the head is wider than usual, in this event the length to width ratio (cranial index) is outside of the normal, this head shape is known as brachycephaly. It is quite usual to see a combination of brachycephaly and plagiocephaly, showing as a wide, asymmetric head shape.

Causes of Flat Head Syndrome

Cranial birth deformities can be the result of intrauterine restriction which can be caused by several different factors. Positional moulding in the uterus (in utero moulding) occurs due to the inhibited position of the baby in the womb. It is more frequently seen in multiple births due to the restricted positioning of the babies and their heads. In other cases deformities of the head present at birth can be the result of birth injury caused by methods of assisted delivery (intrapartum moulding). There is also a greater incidence of plagiocephaly developing in infants born prematurely as their heads are much softer. Fortunately, the majority of these deformities caused both in the uterus or during birth improve naturally without need for treatment during the early months of the infant’s life. The exception occurs when for whatever reason when the infant is positioned in a way that exerts more pressure on one part on certain area of the head. In this case, the syndrome may worsen by simple gravitational force turning an initially minor plagiocephalic deformity into a potential long-term problem requiring treatment.

Besides deformities present at birth, paediatricians have reported increases in the number of children with cranial deformities in recent years, particularly unilateral flattening of the occipital bone at the back of the head. This increase has been, at least statistically, compared with the significant decrease over those years in the numbers of cot deaths or SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). The connection assumes that the increase in flat head syndrome can be attributed to parents following the positioning recommendations aimed at decreasing the risk of SIDS; specifically, the recommendation that healthy young infants should be placed down on their backs for sleep. The back to sleep advice has reduced Sudden Infant Death significantly and parents should always place their babies on their backs when sleeping. However, during the day when the infant is awake and the parents is with them they should spend at least half of their waking hours without pressure on the back of the skull to allow it to reshape naturally. If no improvement is beng seen by the age of five months then plagiocephaly treatment should be considered.

Treatment of Flat Head Syndrome

Initial treatment usually involves repositioning of the baby onto their tummy to reduce the pressure on the affected area, known as ‘Tummy Time’. This should be done for extended time periods during the day. In addition, repositioning cots and other areas in which the infant spends their day will force them to look in different directions to see parents or other areas of interest around them. It should be noted if the infant cries or appears to have discomfort when they are repositioned as this may indicate a problem with neck pain and this possibility should be addressed as tightening of the neck muscles can be common in infants. This treatment should continue until the age of 5-6 months.
If the problem remains unimproved, parents should consider treatment of flat head syndrome with a helmet for a child while still less than 14 months of age. The ideal time to begin treatment is 4 to 7 months but correction can be gained from starting treatment up to 14 months of age. A cranial remoulding helmet (orthosis) can be designed that provides painless contact over the prominent areas of the skull while leaving protected voids to provide a pathway for growth by the affected areas for more symmetrical skull growth.

Tips to Help you Recover From a Skiing Injury

Skiing is a wonderful winter sport; not only do you get a chance to get out in the fresh air and beautiful scenery, it’s fantastic exercise. But unfortunately, skiing is commonly associated with injuries, especially to the knees. If you have been waylaid by a skiing injury, you can take charge of your treatment. Being proactive in your treatment will help you heal faster, getting you back on the slopes earlier. After getting the OK from your surgeon, here are some tips to help you recover from a skiing injury:

Rehabilitation

Depending on the extent of your injury, you may need to visit a Physiotherapist for rehabilitation. Your therapist will work with you not only to help your current injury heal, but also to strengthen the injured area to prevent future injuries. Follow your therapist’s instructions to the letter and be sure to practice the strengthening and range of motion exercises you will be prescribed.
Wear a knee brace

Wearing a knee brace, such as a CTI Prosport during your recovery process will help you heal faster. If your skiing injury involved damage to the ligaments in the knee, wearing a brace will stabilise your knee and prevent re-injury during the healing process. Why is a knee brace so important? Braces prevent lateral and twisting movements in the knee, especially important in ACL and other ligament ruptures and injuries to the meniscus. At the same time, they still allow for smooth, controlled bending and extending movement so that the joint doesn’t stiffen up, inhibiting healing. The best kind of knee brace for a skiing injury is one that provides a high level of protection, such as rigid framed, hinged styles. Your Orthotist or Physiotherapist can help recommend one that is right for your specific injury.

Other Tips for Recovery

- Warm and cold therapy can help loosen up the ligaments and tendons to ease pain. The heat will allow improved blood supply and alternated with cold therapy to squeeze out swelling and dead tissue cells, will improve your range of motion and also prevent the injury from stiffening up.
- Eating a healthy diet with proper nutrition is very important when you have had any kind of injury. Your body needs vitamins and minerals to repair itself and those in food are much more readily available than those in tablet or capsule form. Include plenty of calcium and iron-rich foods, such as low-fat dairy products, lean meats and greens such as spinach.
- To heal properly, your body also requires plenty of sleep. Working too hard and stressing yourself out will only lengthen your healing time. Get your full eight hours of sleep every night and take it easier during the day. You might find that raising your leg onto a pillow will help swelling to reduce.
- Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualisation and even yoga can be quite effective in speeding up healing. They are also very effective for helping to deal with the pain that accompanies these types of injuries.
- Talk to your Orthotist or Physiotherapist about supplements like selenium and chondroitin and whether any of them would be appropriate for you. Don’t add supplements to your diet without checking with your doctor first as some supplements can interact with prescription medications.
- Take prescribed medications as directed. They may be preventing swelling, which inhibits healing and will also reduce pain so that you can move easier and work through your rehab exercises.

Technology in Motion treat clients with ACL ruptures and repairs who have an unstable knee or need to protect it during sport in several clinics across the UK. Please visit their website for more information.

Treatment for Brachycephaly: A Mum’s Story

Harry is a lovely little 8 month old boy with severe brachycephaly; often referred to as ‘flat head syndrome’. The condition brachycephaly is best described as a flattened area at the back of the head where the width of the head can be wider than the length.
Harry’s mum began to realise that his head was becoming flat at around 6 weeks and raised her concerns with his health visitor who advised mum to reposition, and that in time the flatness would round out. However mum grew increasingly concerned as over time Harry’s head shape did not improve and in spite of repositioning, Harry’s head shape continued to deteriorate.
When Harry was 6 months old Harry’s mum took him to the GP as the flatness was really worrying her by now and they then referred him to a consultant at Addenbrookes hospital. Harry had a CT scan which ruled out the medical condition craniosynostosis, (early fusion of the bones in the head) but his parents were told there was no more that the NHS could do to correct his head shape. Harry’s parents felt really let down by the NHS as the consultant himself agreed that Harry needed to have a helmet but they could not fund it!
Mum read about The Tree of Hope children’s charity just by chance whilst reading a newspaper article on the internet regarding a baby who was given money by the charity towards the funding of treatment for a helmet. The application process was very simple and quick, and within 6 days they were given the great news that the charity would pay all the money towards Harry having treatment. The Tree of Hope is a small yet wonderful charity offering hope to families who require specialist medical treatment. Jeremy from the Tree of Hope was quoted as saying “The Tree of Hope Children’s Charity is delighted that we were able to help Harry and we are thrilled that he is making such good progress.”
Harry’s parents chose to go to Technology in Motion as all the feedback from other parents on internet forums was extremely positive, they had also seen an episode of the Channel 4 programme ‘Embarrassing Bodies – Kids’ which featured TiM and this reassured them that Harry would be in the best hands for the course of his brachycephaly treatment.
At the assessment Harry’s head was measured and scanned and his cranial ratio was found to be 105% which is regarded as very severe. The cranial ratio is the relationship between the width and length of a head with a normal cranial ratio sitting between 78 %and 83%. The aim of the treatment will be to hold the width of Harry’s head and allow all the growth out of the back of Harry’s head thus reducing the cranial ratio.
Mum stated that their clinician was brilliant with Harry and that they explained the process very clearly. The assessment was very relaxed – Harry was even having his lunch whilst being scanned!
Steve Mottram, Managing Director of Technology in Motion said ‘Sadly, Harry’s story is very common and we hear similar stories from many of the parents that we see. The one unusual and hopeful part is that the doctor did recognise that Harry would be helped by using a helmet to treat the plagiocephaly. Most parents are not given a diagnosis, advice on repositioning or information on treatment which is always successful if caught at an early enough age.’
Harry will be fitted with his helmet on Wednesday 7th Dec and we will keep you updated with his progress.
Technology in Motion treat infants with flat head syndrome; plagiocephaly and brachycephaly in several clinics across the UK. Please visit their website for more information.