Early Diagnosis for Plagiocephaly


Early Diagnosis for Plagiocephaly

BY Jon W

09 June 2016

One of our specialisms at London Orthotics Consultancy is the treatment of plagiocephaly – or flat head syndrome – a condition characterised by flattening, or sometimes bulging, of a baby’s head. At the current time, the NHS does not recognise plagiocephaly as a condition that requires any specific medical treatment. But there is a growing body of research from other countries suggesting that flat head syndrome is on the increase. And, anecdotally, we receive a considerable number or enquiries from adults asking us to help them with plagiocephaly related issues.

One of the most important messages for us to spread about flat head syndrome is the importance of early treatment to improve the likelihood of a positive outlook. As babies grow, the plates of the skull become less malleable, meaning that a plagiocephaly treatment such as our LOCBand helmet will only be effective if it is pursued well before the age of two years, when the skull will harden completely.

It’s also important for parents to understand the role that techniques such as repositioning and tummy time can play in avoiding flat head syndrome – and for us, it’s important to spread that message as widely as we possibly can.

So we’re delighted to have teamed up with the online parenting community Small Steps Online, who recently asked our plagiocephaly specialist Saeed Hamid to advise their followers on the causes, trends, preventative techniques and likely treatment of plagiocephaly.

You can read LOC’s article for Small Steps on flat head syndrome here.

If you are involved with a parenting forum, group or publication and you’d like us to provide an informative article to raise awareness around the facts about plagiocephaly, please by all means contact LOC and we’ll be happy to help.

Are you worried about your baby’s head shape? You can seek an immediate clinical opinion from one of our orthotists using our free online flat head diagnosis form. Simply use the form to upload your photos, and an orthotist will get back to you within 24 hours to confirm whether flat head is a possibility, and what options you might consider next.

Our thanks to Small Steps for helping us to advise their followers about an issue that is a concern for many parents. If you’re interested in joining the Small Steps community, visit www.smallstepsonline.co.uk.


This is very much dependent on how fast your baby is growing. The faster the growth, the more frequently your baby will be seen so that the helmet can be adjusted. In general, reviews will happen at two to four-week intervals.

The price of treatment covers:

  • all your baby’s required appointments from start to the end of treatment, no matter how many are required to achieve the improvement in head shape that you are happy with;
  • the cost of manufacturing the LOCband and supply of appropriate cleaning fluid for the band;
  • all reports to your GP/paediatrician/ cranial osteopath/physiotherapist, including a final scan report with objective measurements of change achieve;
  • full telephone support from your clinician during treatment, and, if necessary, extra review appointments at short notice.

Yes - All babies that have completed their course of treatment with us have achieved a measurable improvement in head shape. However, you don’t have to take our word for it.

Recent independent research conducted by a University Hospital in Germany has endorsed the treatment for babies with moderate or severe plagiocephaly.

A larger, retrospective study has just been published that found complete correction was achieved in 94.4% of babies treated with helmet therapy.

The results were conclusive: repositioning achieved acceptable correction in 77.1% of cases, but 15.8% were moved onto helmet therapy because re-positioning was not working. Meanwhile, 94.4% of the infants who started in the helmet-treated group achieved full correction, as did 96.1% of those who were transferred from the repositioning group into the helmet-treated group.

Further information can be found on our Plagiocephaly Research page.

If your baby has a temperature or a fever due to illness you must remove the band. The band can be put back on once the temperature has returned to normal.

The optimum age for treatment is between four and seven months.

This is because the skull is most malleable at this age and improvements to head shape tend to take less time and are more dramatic. That is not to say that helmet therapy should be ruled out if the baby is older than seven months. Routinely, babies up to the age of 16 months can be treated very successfully.

The cut off age is around 18 months when the fontanelles (soft spots on the head) are no longer malleable. As babies grow and develop at different rates, it is always worth checking if you are not sure. There have been cases where a baby’s fontanelles have not fused yet by the age of 18 months, who have achieved successful, but less-marked results with cranial remoulding therapy.

Torticollis is a condition in which a tight or shortened muscle in one side of the neck causes the head to tilt or turn to one side, resulting in the infant resting its head in the same position. In 2013, we analysed the data from all first appointments in our Kingston clinic and found that 20% of the babies examined had some kind of neck condition that was causing head immobility.

The clinics and clinicians that provide this treatment in the UK will have received similar training and experience. However, we are the only clinic that manufactures its own helmet and our clinicians are closely involved with the process for each individual helmet that we produce.

In addition, we do not restrict review appointments to a set number, we are extremely flexible and respond to individual parents' needs so that the best outcome can be achieved for each baby.

The LOCband is non-invasive and works by applying gentle, constant pressure over the areas of the baby’s skull that are most prominent while allowing unrestricted growth over the flattened areas. The band consists of a soft foam layer inside a thermoplastic shell. As the baby grows, the band will be adjusted frequently to gently guide the skull into a more symmetrical shape.

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