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​What is Plagiocephaly?

Plagiocephaly, also known as flat head syndrome, is an asymmetrical distortion of the head. It is a common condition affecting the head and face of your baby.

80% of skull growth takes place in the first year of life. Many factors can cause flat spots. The bones of a baby's skull are soft and flexible, and pressure from everyday surfaces, such as beds or car seats, can cause misshaping.

What Does Plagiocephaly Look Like?

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  • Brachycephaly – Head is wide and short
  • Plagiocephaly – Head is flat on one side
  • Scaphocephaly – Head is longer and narrower than normal

How Do You Know if Your Child has Plagiocephaly?Prosthetics and Orthotics -How Do You Know if Your Child has Plagiocephaly.jpg

You may notice that your child's head looks asymmetrical when viewed from above. There will be a flat spot at the back or side of the head. This spot usually has little hair growth.

Plagiocephaly is more than a cosmetic concern. It may cause complications such as uneven facial or head growth and jaw or speech problems. It is important to control and stop the deformity worsening.

​Babies can develop misshapen heads for a number of reasons:

  • Lying for long periods of time with the baby's head in one position
  • Womb position - babies who become stuck in one position or do not have enough room to move in the womb are at risk of developing plagiocephaly. A breech orientation can also lead to an abnormal head shape
  • Positioning during birth
  • Torticollis - Congenital Muscular Torticollis (CMT) is a condition in which the neck muscles are abnormally tight, causing baby's head to tilt and/or turn to one side. Torticollis often causes the head to be held in a single position, which can lead to plagiocephaly.

​Plagiocephaly may be treated by repositioning the baby to take pressure off the flat spot of the head. This is effective if the baby is diagnosed before 6 months.

For more severe cases, a helmet can be used to remould the skull. Ideally, treatment should start as early as possible, before the baby's first birthday.

What is the Helmet Treatment?

If a helmet is needed, the orthotist will take a plaster mould of your baby's head. The plaster model is then modified to give a symmetrical shape. This allows the baby' bones to grow to fill the space within the helmet. The helmet must be worn 23 hours a day for an about 6 months.

How Does the Helmet Treatment Work?

  • The helmet causes the bones of the skull to be remoulded into a more symmetrical shape by applying pressure to the high spots of the head while leaving space for the flattened area to grow into

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  • If treated early enough, good result can be obtained for a large percentage of babies

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  • The orthotist will modify the helmet during the course of treatment as remoulding of the skull takes place
  • The helmet needs to be replaced whenever it gets too small
  • The orthotist will explain to you how to use and care for the helmet
  • You may bring in cloth with a design of your choice to make the helmet more interesting for your child

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