Chin and Partners introduce STARband, the following is an overview (an honest one) on treatment recommendations for cranial deformities.

Disclaimer: Images are courtesy of Orthomerica our partner in providing you STARband.
Warning: The following information may contain elements of mild humour and images that are not suitable for audience sensitive to paediatric or medical topics. Accordingly, viewer discretion is advised.

People say it is easier to understand a situation when you can relate. I don’t relate to you because I am not a parent (yet). However, who I can potentially relate to is your baby. So, who am I? I belong to an elite group of people known to have cranial head shape deformities. I am also an Orthotist who can assess, correct, and monitor cranial deformities.

In advance, I do not apologise for playing the victim but reflecting on the days when my parents would lose me in a shopping mall I think it is safe to say I could not trust them to identify if my head shape was abnormal or not. Please refrain from doing this to your child and refer to the link at the end of the post to learn more about cranial deformities and how to identify them.

Let’s get to it:

Treatment Recommendations

Abnormal head shapes should resolve naturally in 6 to 8-weeks after birth. Indications of a cranial deformity present within the first 3 to 4 months, therapies should be introduced as soon as possible. Usually, these therapies include repositioning by a Physiotherapist and adjustments by a Chiropractor. Early intervention allows for the best clinical outcomes as parents should be educated on the significance of tummy time during the first year of a baby’s life.

To assess and monitor the head growth during therapies, the Orthotist (Me) will record measurements and compile a comparative report documenting the changes in the head shape using the SmartSoc® scanning system. A corrective helmet will be prescribed only once a cranial assessment indicates the cranial deformity not responding to therapies. The Orthotist (Me) will provide the corrective helmet and guide cranial growth throughout the program.

The following example are treatment recommendations explained in a timeline following the story of the 10-month-old Frank.

Frank’s Story

2 months old, Frank’s parents noticed an abnormal head shape.

3 months old, the abnormal head shape did not resolve naturally, Frank also struggled to keep his head up during tummy time and had preferred to keep his head in one position.

A paediatrician was consulted and diagnosed Frank with Torticollis (neck muscle imbalance) and Plagiocephaly (most common head shape deformity), Frank was referred to start therapy immediately.

5 months old, with therapies there was a gradual reduction in the comorbidities (more than one medical condition present).

6 months old, an Orthotist was consulted to conduct a cranial assessment and confirmed Frank had a moderate to severe Plagiocephaly which required the use of a corrective helmet.

Frank’s parents were sceptical of effects of the corrective helmet, but the orthotist educated them on cranial deformities, treatment recommendations and the importance of correction.

As a multidisciplinary approach, consultations were scheduled for the therapist and the Orthotist to adjust and monitor the head growth. Frank was fitted with a canary yellow helmet (because gender neutral)

8 months old, during treatment there was a significant reduction in the comorbidities. The therapy coupled with the use of the corrective helmet achieved correction over a 4-month period.

10 months old, Frank no longer required therapy and graduated from the use of the helmet.

Franks Real Story

2 months old, Frank’s parents noticed an abnormal head shape.

3 months old, the abnormal head shape did not resolve naturally, Frank also struggled to keep his head up during tummy time and had preferred to keep his head in one position but Franks parents did not feel the necessity to consult with a paediatrician immediately.

5 months old, the paediatrician was consulted.

6 months old, Frank started therapy.

8 months old, the therapist reported minor progress. An Orthotist was consulted to conduct a cranial assessment which confirmed Frank had a moderate to severe Plagiocephaly and required the use of a corrective helmet.

After receiving information about the treatment, Frank’s parents remained sceptical to proceed and wanted to attempt a few more weeks of therapy instead.

9.5 months old, since Plagiocephaly is not life threatening and deciding to embrace the long-term effects of the cranial deformity, Franks parents did not proceed with the Cranial Remoulding treatment.

10 months old, Frank’s Plagiocephaly still resisted therapy and did not resolve.

What Happens Now?

The worse the head shape the uglier the baby. (Just joking all babies are cute bundles of joy).

Clinical and evidence-based practice suggest, Frank is at risk of delayed developmental milestones, decompressed brain growth, jaw malalignment, visual disturbances, abnormalities of the eustachian tube, asymmetries in facial appearance and neck muscles and migraines (usually in adulthood).

In the case of Frank at 10 months of age, correction will take longer but can still be achieved. After 18 months of age the cranial bones fuse and no longer accommodate growth spurts. Considering this, the corrective helmet is indicated between 3 to 12 months of age and depends on the age of the baby and the severity of the deformity.

If you suspect your baby has an unresolved cranial deformity, I encourage you to consult with the paediatrician to refer you for the necessary treatment in time to achieve optimal correction.

Once again, I don’t mean make this about me, but I believe my sensory disturbances, malocclusion and delayed development could have been prevented if there was someone to correct my cranial deformity.

After various medical visits throughout my years of development you may ask,

“Did you live a normal life?”

Deep in my journey of self-awareness I evade a secret that haunts me and to be frank…I am afraid to be bald.

Sincerely, a health care professional who can correct Frank’s head.

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