Deformational Plagiocephaly is the technical term often used to describe flat head syndrome.
During the birthing process a baby's head can become misshapen from the pressure exerted on it through the birth canal. In most cases this shape will correct gradually on its own accord. If at six weeks, an abnormal head shape is still obvious, it should be assessed by a physician.
Plagiocephaly can also occur after birth for different reasons, including:
There is no medical evidence that an abnormal head shape will have any affect on a child's brain function. However it can cause a child's eyes and ears to become misaligned.
With most mild cases where the infant's skull has become flattened, the deformity will correct by itself. As the child gets older and begins to sit and stand, less pressure is constantly exerted on the rear of the skull as it is in a cot. This allows the shape to normalize with mild flattening.
If at the age of six weeks a moderate to severe flattening is present, positioning techniques that allow the flattening to grow - out, can be used successfully to rectify the abnormal head shape. A paediatric physiotherapist can advise you on what techniques are available to assist in this area.
Remoulding helmet therapy is best applied when the child is still young, 4 months of age is an optimal time to begin. This is when the skull bones are at their most mouldable and brain expansion is at its quickest. Whilst improvements in cranial symmetry are possible in older infants, the treatment takes longer and the risk or the child rejecting the helmet is greater. The table below represents the effectiveness of remoulding helmet therapy in relation to the infant's age.
The theory behind cranial remoulding helmet therapy is for the head to grow into the shape of the helmet. Therefore for the most effective use, the helmet needs to be worn for 23 hours of the day with one hour off for a break and hygiene. The length of use is generally dependent on the age of the infant.
SSS was the first practice in Australia to invest in 3D Scanning Technology. The most advanced system in the measurement and treatment of Plagiocephaly. No upsetting plaster casts required. Accurate measurement of a child's flat spot is often enough to set many parents at ease.
Did you know that approximately 50% of all children that present for initial assessment to Skeletal Support Systems decide not to pursue to Helmet therapy? After thorough examination by our Orthotist and full discussion of the pros and cons. Many parents are satisfied that their child's skull deformation is no longer of significant concern to them. In fact, it is our ability to accurately measure and compare cranial shapes and often put parent minds at ease that has seen our practice grow in size and reputation.
For those children that do progress to Helmet therapy, our ability to accurately measure treatment outcomes, and report back to both the parents and referring physician sets a standard for Plagiocephaly that cannot be matched anywhere in Australia.