For various reasons, more babies today have misshapen heads. Greater use of infant “containers” like bouncy seats, swings and car seats, plus the successful “Back to Sleep” program to address Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, have all added up to babies spending more hours on their backs. The result is that babies’ soft skulls may develop a flat spot, which is referred to as plagiocephaly. Parent education for re-positioning and tummy time are important. The best defense for plagiocephaly is prevention!
Statistics relate that infants with plagiocephaly may also have torticollis, which is tightness and weakness of the neck muscles. Because of this, babies may rest with their heads in the same position, creating an area of flatness of the skull. For infants with torticollis or plagiocephaly, assessments by a physical therapist and cranial remolding helmet practitioner are recommended. Torticollis and plagiocephaly treatments are both very time sensitive. Because torticollis affects head shape, this treatment can and should start as soon as possible before the muscle becomes less responsive to treatment. Even after a baby has developed a flat spot, conservative therapeutic efforts may help the head shape to “round out” on its own.
For cranial remolding with a custom-fabricated helmet, length of treatment usually corresponds to the age the child begins treatment. Early referrals offer the best chance of prevention. If you think your child may have neck tightness or you are concerned with head shape, visit with your doctor and call LifeScape Rehabilitation Center in Sioux Falls at 444-9700 or LifeScape in Rapid City at 791-7400.
Measurement guidelines are used to help define your baby’s status and needs, and parent education is always provided. Click here for details on cranial remolding services. Check out LifeScapeSD.org for more information about all our services.
-By Annette Vollan-Kerber, PT, MS, RISE Custom Solutions (A subsidiary of LifeScape)