Types of Plagiocephaly

Type of Head Shape

Whatever type of head shape your baby has, there is something that you can do about it. The first option is to try repositioning. The objective is to continually reposition your baby’s head so it is not resting on the affected area. LOC’s clinicians will give you lots of tips about what you can do.

Repositioning and tummy time techniques can be enough to encourage natural correction of your baby’s head shape. However, not all babies will respond as some will simply go back to their preferred sitting/sleeping position and little natural correction can take place.

Plagiocephaly

Plagiocephaly is a condition that affects the skull, making the back or side of a baby’s head appear flattened.

Brachycephaly

Brachycephaly, derived from the Greek, means short head, the shape of the skull is shorter than average. 

Scaphocephaly

Scaphocephaly, derived from the Greek ‘light boat’ head, describes a long but narrow head resembling an inverted boat.

TREATMENT

Cranial Helmets

For babies with moderate or severe Positional Plagiocephaly who have reached the age of 4-5 months, we recommend cranial remoulding therapy with a specially manufactured baby helmet – The LOCband or LOCband-Lite.

Age is important as treatment is most effective and quicker when treatment is started at this age. However, babies up to the age of 16 months can be treated very successfully, it just takes longer and the results may not be as dramatic as with younger babies.

Visit our Plagiocephaly Treatment page

Above: LOCband fitting

Above: LOCband fitting

Plagiocephaly FAQS:

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.

Back to Sleep

Although the 'Back to Sleep' campaign has been linked to the increased incidence of positional plagiocephaly, (for more information, see Diagnosis and Management of Positional Head Deformity) it has saved lives by reducing the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), (more information can be found on The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths). Therefore, babies should always be placed on their backs to sleep.

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