Positional Plagiocephaly is a term used to describe the asymmetrical shape of a baby’s skull. It develops as a result of constant pressure being placed on one area of the thin, flexible skull of the baby. Colloquially it is known as ‘flat head syndrome’.
In the USA clinicians also tend to talk about Deformational Plagiocephaly, where the condition is caused by the birth process itself, typically of a firstborn or twins. The lumps and bumps of Deformational Plagiocephaly tend to resolve naturally a few weeks after birth, By contrast, Positional Plagiocephaly can become increasingly apparent.
Until about one year of age, the bones of a baby’s head are very thin and flexible, which makes it soft and easy to mould. Premature babies are more likely to develop flat heads, as their skulls are softer than full-term babies. They also tend to spend more time on their backs without being moved or picked up.
Under the broad heading of Positional Plagiocephaly, there are three main types of asymmetrical head shape: confusingly the first is called Plagiocephaly and the other two are Brachycephaly and Scaphocephaly. You can read more about types of plagiocephaly here.
Plagiocephaly is also known as Flat Head Syndrome.
There are 3 common types of flat head syndrome our clinicians are experienced in treating at LOC.
They are Plagiocephaly, Brachycephaly and Scaphocephaly.
Babies can have one or two different head shapes combined, most commonly Plagiocephaly & Brachycephaly.
In the medical world the treatment for Plagiocephaly is called Cranial Remoulding Therapy.
This involves a custom-made helmet that corrects the head shape over time.
The efficacy of this helmet therapy has been proven in many peer reviewed articles in clinical journals.
The LOCband has been designed and perfected after years of experience in treating positional plagiocephaly.
It is manufactured bespoke for each baby to exact clinical specifications.
The manufacturing process is overseen by the clinician to ensure the best possible fit and comfort for your baby.
Building upon the success of our original LOCband for treating positional plagiocephaly, we have developed a 3D printed cranial helmet called the LOCband-Lite, which features a lighter construction and air vents to improve heat dissipation.
The design has been optimised for 3D printing to enable LOC to create thinner wall thicknesses and utilize state-of-the-art printing techniques to design meshes that allow better air circulation for your baby's head during hotter months.
We listened to parent's needs for a cooler and more lightweight design and after 18 months of trials, we achieved consistent results enabling the successful roll-out of this new cranial helmet.
Find out more about the LOCband-Lite.
The London Orthotic Consultancy (LOC) is the most experienced clinic in the UK in treating babies with positional plagiocephaly.
We offer a FREE, no-obligation, initial consultation for babies aged 3 months and upwards, during which our specialist clinician will establish whether your baby has positional plagiocephaly and how severe it is. We will provide advice about re-positioning techniques that may help to resolve the condition naturally.
In cases of moderate to severe plagiocephaly, cranial remoulding therapy with the LOCband has proven to be very effective at normalising head shape. The LOCband has been designed and perfected by our own clinicians after years of personal experience in treating positional plagiocephaly. Each LOCband is manufactured individually for each baby, according to our clinician’s exact measurements and specifications. Baby helmets like the LOCband have been used for over 25 years to treat babies with flat heads.
Read more about plagiocephaly treatment.
Get to know our latest recruit who's a whiz when it comes to carving precision moulds that help LOC Manufacturing achieve better fitting orthoses for conditions such as plagiocephaly, scoliosis and CP.
Having purchased our first Markforged Mark II printer for small in-house engineering developments, we can now print continuous carbon fibre, kevlar and high tensile glass fibres.
The advent of carbon fibre has allowed the creation of a new range of specialised orthoses. These are not only lighter and less bulky, but also more comfortable and much stronger than traditional, plastic types.
Victor the Robot, our new computer numerical control milling machine in action! Victor is noisy, but he’s transforming our ability to design and manufacture orthotic devices at our Kingston-upon-Thames clinic.
Manufactured by Rodin4D, Victor is capable of milling complex ergonomic shapes, meaning that we can now potentially assess a spinal orthotic patient, manufacture the orthosis and have it fitted, all in the space of a day. Victor can do everything we need to do for our patients, in-house and in the shortest time possible with no compromise on quality.
Elouise’s parents were acutely aware of the risk of flat head syndrome because their first child had developed severe plagiocephaly but was treated late with a headband after false reassurances from health professionals ... continue reading ...
This little boy has a twin brother and they were born 5 weeks prematurely. Both babies lay breach in the womb and this little one was stuck under mum’s ribs. His parents noticed a lump on his neck at a few weeks old ... continue reading ...
This little boy first visited LOC in July 2015 with his parents. Has had been diagnosed with torticollis when he was 2 months old and had begun to receive physiotherapy to treat this ... continue reading ...
As Gary got to 5 months it was even more noticeable. During Gary's check-up with the GP, I expressed my concern about his head shape but once again I was told it would grow out and there was no reason for concern ... continue reading ...
Our daughter, M, was born with a noticeable flat head. I initially raised my concerns with our GP & health visitor but was told several times not to worry & that it would improve over time ... continue reading ...
It was a lovely surprise to hear from Ewan Reading’s mother, Natalie - nine years after Ewan was treated for positional plagiocephaly at LOC's Kingston clinic ... continue reading ...
Senior orthotist Sally Hews talks to us about baby Francis’ plagiocephaly journey and what you can expect from flat head syndrome treatment at the London Orthotic Consultancy ... continue reading ...
Right from the beginning, we got the answers that we were looking for and left the clinic knowing what we were going to do. Everything just felt really simple every time we went for an appointment. I would definitely recommend LOC to other parents, and if anyone is in doubt about whether they should go for treatment, I’d say take advantage of the free consultation, because it was so worth it to go and get confirmation. I’m so happy I did it.
When we visited LOC there was no sales pitch or pressure – just honest, helpful advice and support. We’re very happy with the service we received from LOC and, most of all, we are delighted with the results!
At the start of the treatment, Saeed told us that we could expect the cephalic ratio to reduce by nine or ten points at most. In fact, it has reduced by 109 to 94. That’s a reduction of 15 points which is more than any of us hoped for. And his asymmetry has reduced from 10mm to just 1mm. We were so happy with the results that we felt it was a natural breakpoint for him and we were advised that the treatment is less effective the older a child is.
We would be very happy for Francis to be included on the case histories page of your website. We are so pleased with the outcome of his treatment - I can only hope the images will give other parents confidence in the treatment where needed.
To say we are delighted with the service and results of the treatment would be an understatement! We felt cared for every step of the way, with regular check-ups meaning we were always aware of our twins’ development. Thank you so much to Sally at LOC, you are a star and have made a real difference to the future well-being of our boys!
Thank you again for taking care of Amrit's flat head. We are very pleased with the results. Attached are some pics of our visits to the clinic which we thought you may want to keep and use to show others the painless process for the baby.
Ewan was four months old and I could breastfeed while he was wearing the helmet. At the clinic, they took their time with him. It made a huge difference knowing that we could trust them.
Ewen is now a confident and happy child, and the helmet therapy was definitely the right decision for us. I would (and have) recommended LOC to anyone, the clinic was friendly and reassuring.
From the very start, everyone at LOC was professional and friendly. Every step of the way was well-explained and measuring and fitting was quick. It only took Magnus one day to get used to the band and after that, he wasn’t bothered by it at all. And, most importantly, it worked! His head now looks completely normal. I would 100% get a LOCband again if we were to face the same situation again.
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:
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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