On this page, we’ve provided answers to many of the most commonly asked questions about Plagiocephaly and other variants of flat head syndrome.
Of course, if you would prefer to speak to one of our specialists, then please do not hesitate to contact us
Does my baby have Plagiocephaly?
If your baby has an asymmetry of the head shape – typically one side of the head is flatter than the other – then it is possible that he or she will be a ‘Plagio’ baby.
This is a form of ‘flat head syndrome’. At about eight weeks of age, you may have noticed that your baby’s head seemed asymmetric with a flattening on one side, or that an ear is pushed forward on one side, or that the brow is more prominent.
Does Plagiocephaly matter?
In our experience, children and adults with Plagiocephaly are concerned that there may be practical and psycho-social implications. For example, a child may have to wear an adult’s safety helmet to ride a bike because the child’s size doesn’t fit. Adults may find it difficult to enter certain professions when they can’t wear standard head protection. Socially, it is known that symmetric faces are more appealing and more desirable in society.
What does the word Brachycephaly mean?
This is another medical term for a type of flat head syndrome. A ‘Brachy’ baby has a wider than normal head with the flattening across the back of the skull. Many babies will have a combination of both Plagiocephaly and Brachycephaly, with a wide head shape that is more flattened to one side.
What causes Plagiocephaly?
Is it my fault?
No, it’s not your fault.
You have been following good advice to place your baby on the back to sleep. This advice is proven to have significantly reduced the number of infants dying from cot death. We believe that this advice is incomplete and should include that you need to reduce pressure on your baby’s head when awake and you are with them. Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play.
A flattening does not mean that there is damage to your baby’s brain. The brain is a most forgiving organ and the natural neural plasticity available in all of our brains easily allows for all connections to develop and be made normally.
We always recommend that you must place your baby to sleep on the back every night. When your baby is about 5 months old it’s natural for your baby to start to roll onto the side. This is OK and normal and by then your baby is usually safe.
How is Plagiocephaly normally diagnosed?
Plagiocephaly diagnosis is currently based upon visual inspection and measurement of the infant’s skull. If the skull shape is not typical of a deformational Plagiocephaly, further investigation such as X-ray or CT scans will confirm whether there is a synostosis (abnormal fusion) of the sutures between the cranial bones , for which surgery is required.
Signs and Symptoms of Plagiocephaly
Parents typically notice an asymmetry or flattening of their infants’ skulls at 2 to 3 months of age and diagnosis is typically made at this time.
Typically, there is a parallelogram shaped skull, with flattening towards the back of either the left or right hand side. There may also be some facial and brow asymmetry on the same side as the flattening. In severe cases there can also be some bulging on the opposite side at the back and the back of the head can look as if it’s been pushed to one side.
Will the skull correct itself naturally?
Up to age four to five months repositioning will help, as will osteopathy or physiotherapy. After this age your baby will be sitting and rolling so up until your baby is four or five months old, there is a chance the head will improve naturally.
After this, if you’re not seeing further improvement, it is doubtful if the shape will improve greatly without help. We can give advice on repositioning techniques that will take the pressure off the flatter side of the head for young babies. For example, when your baby is awake and you’re with them, putting your baby on the tummy to play is a good technique. Approximately 20% of the babies that we see don’t need corrective orthotics, as the head is not very severe and these will become unnoticeable in time.
Will my baby’s head shape self correct?
Our experience is that head shape will improve to some extent with time however, we regularly receive enquiries from parents of older children asking if we can help but sadly we’re not able to as there is insufficient head growth to bring about any correction once the child is older. If you are not seeing significant signs of improvement after four or five months of age, it’s doubtful if the head shape will improve naturally to any great extent.
What is TiMband treatment? Is it safe?
This treatment for Plagiocephaly involves wearing a lightweight helmet that allows the head to grow back to a more normal shape. Each TiMband is made especially for your baby using a photographic scan, which accurately takes all necessary information quickly and safely.
As the head grows, the TiMband helmet gently allows the head to grow back into a normal shape, ensuring a safe, gentle and permanent correction.
Why is TiMband different?
The TiMband was developed over five years ago and has been used to successfully treat thousands of infants in the UK and Europe. Initially using an American helmet, we introduced cranial remoulding treatment into the UK in 2003 and for contractual reasons had to move to develop our own helmet. With our experience we developed the TiMband and work with an extremely experienced and high level manufacturing company. We believe that our scanning technology, modifications, easy to wear lightweight helmet and clinical protocols place us at the forefront in management of head shape deformities.
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Who are you?
We are fully qualified, specialist trained Orthotists, regulated by the UK Health Care Professions Council (HCPC), who specialise in providing treatment for babies with head shape deformities – both through parental advice and corrective orthotics. We’re led by Steve Mottram, the UK’s leading clinical expert in flat head syndrome correction. Since 2003, we have successfully treated over 7,000 children. You can learn more about Steve and the rest of the team here.
Do I need a doctor to refer my baby for treatment?
Most parents come to see us without having seen their GPs. Or, if they have, then the advice they’ve been given that the skull will self-correct, is not happening. All of our clinicians are able to assess, differentially diagnose, prescribe and treat infants with Plagiocephaly. There are lots of testimonials from parents whose babies have benefited from the TiMband here.
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Are your treatments expensive?
What if I can’t afford a TiMband?
A TiMband treatment costs £1,950, about the same as tooth bracing (which is just a strip of wire, after all). We offer free assessments and free consultations. Of course, we would never treat a baby that doesn’t absolutely need it and would not benefit from treatment.
Many parents do get financial help, whether from dedicated charities or by their own fund raising.
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