Does using a Helmet to correct a plagiocephaly affect a Baby’s Brain?
We often have parents come and see us who are concerned that the misshaping of their baby’s head will have an affect on their brain.
The good news is that plagiocephaly does not affect brain development. Head size is dependent on the brain size; head shape is dependent on external forces which can either deform or reform. To gain a better understanding of how your baby’s brain does develop, here is a brief look at the growing process it goes through from conception to birth and beyond.
The brain is a most forgiving organ with huge opportunity to make new connections all through life. Throughout history, cultures and civilisations have been deliberately modifying the head shape of infants for tribal, cultural or hierarchy reasons. The current issue with head shape deformation is that the ‘odd’ shape that develops in the first few months of life is an unintended consequence of an infant lying in one position for too long, creating a flattening as the head develops.
A baby’s brain grows and develops from conception and at birth the brain is about a quarter of the size of an adult brain. By this time it has millions of cells, synapses and connections and is at its most ‘plastic’ ready to continue growing and learning. Before birth, babies are already learning, developing the nerve connections to muscles, heart and all their senses like touch, hearing, taste and sight. Therefore, at birth we are ready to breathe, cry, suck and even recognise our mother’s voice.
In the first 6 months, a baby’s brain doubles in size before doubling again in the next six months. This amazing growth rate is accompanied by developing connections to allow the processing of a huge amount of new information and experiences to form a firm foundation for early and adult life.
As the brain grows, the skull must remain flexible to accommodate this rapid amount of growth and all the sutures remain open and the bones of the skull remain flexible, gradually becoming firmer right through to and beyond the point of skeletal maturity at age eighteen to twenty. This is when the long bones in our body have stopped growing and the hormonal changes that happen during puberty have run their course.
Bones do remain plastic and there is continual bone reformation throughout life, which is how bones can heal when they are broken. The skull can also continue to change and the ultimate head shape depends on the start point. Sadly, many infants develop such a severe head shape deformity that they will never be able to get back to a normal skull shape.
When we fit a TiMband helmet to a baby, we allow growth to continue at a normal rate. What the helmet does is to allow the growth to be directed where we need it to, to bring about a greatly improved, corrected, more normal head shape. By doing this early in life, we give the babies that we treat a massively improved opportunity to develop normally and to be able to engage in all activities that require head protection, such as cycling, skiing, horse riding and in adult life, motor cycling, coasteering, being a surgeon, join the military, the police, or working in construction.
We know that we give the babies that we treat the opportunity to become the people that they are meant to be and enable them to have opportunities that they may not be able to if their head shape was not within the normal range.
The gentle, soft cell lining inside the helmets corrects the head shape as the brain grows in such a way that is safe for the baby and pain free. You can read more about our TiMband Treatment on our website.