Cranial Therapy Service Supports Babies and Parents
Parents often become very concerned and anxious when their newborn baby has an unusually shaped head, or there are flat spots on the back and side of their baby’s head.
Plagiocephaly and brachycephaly are both infant cranial deformities that are caused by prolonged pressure to the skull in a certain position. The causes include babies spending too much time lying on their back during the first few months of their life, or from the baby being in a particular position in the womb.
In almost all cases, plagiocephaly and brachycephaly will not impact a child’s development, however, cosmetic concerns and parental anxiety often dictate the need to provide solutions to this problem.
NovitaTech’s Cranial Therapy service provides head and skull assessment using the latest in 3D technology. Scans of a baby’s head provide objective, repeatable measures that can track improvements over time and can help inform if treatment is necessary.
In many cases NovitaTech’s 3D scan will help parents to see that their baby’s flat spot or misshapen head is not as significant as initially thought. However, there are cases where the asymmetry of the head is considered significant, and after conservative treatments have been tried – including techniques that can be prescribed by chiropractors, osteopaths, and physiotherapists – provision of a custom 3D printed helmet may be necessary.
The helmets NovitaTech supplies are designed to be lightweight, allowing air flow, be cosmetically appealing, and easy to put on and off. The helmet gently rounds the baby’s head by allowing room for growth in the flat spot.
Now 11-and-a-half months old, Oliver’s mum Anna says they first noticed he preferred to sleep on only one side when he was just a few months old. They thought he had an unusually shaped head.
“At the time we did what we could – he was sleeping for long periods of time on that side. Then as he started growing, we could tell that his head just did not look right. It was not the right shape, and his ears were not aligned, and he had a bit of a flat spot,” says Anna.
“I spoke to a friend who had used NovitaTech’s Cranial Therapy service, and she recommended I give them a call. We had tried a chiropractor as well, but there wasn’t any significant change. After our scan, all the numbers and advice from NovitaTech indicated that a helmet would be the correct thing to do.
“The NovitaTech team was very reassuring. As a parent you have a lot of doubts and concerns, and you do not want to feel like you have been sold a product that is not appropriate, but all the information they provided was correct and everything was just reassuring. We knew we were doing the right thing for Oliver as soon as we saw them.
“Oliver is now great. He has a beautifully shaped head – he still has a bit of a flat spot, but it is where it is supposed to be, so the helmet did what it needed to do. His ears are perfectly shaped now. We did the right thing by getting the helmet for him.”
Anna says Oliver’s thee-year-old brother was very curious about the helmet.
“The NovitaTech team was good about that – they gave him a mini-helmet that he could use, and he would play around with it. It helped him to understand why Oliver was wearing a helmet,” says Anna.
Claire is mum to one-year-old Owen, and she says that from birth he seemed to have a tight neck and so was always favouring one side when he turned his head.
“Little did we know that it was causing a flat spot, and as first-time parents we really had no clue what we were doing, and the flat spot just kept getting worse and worse,” says Claire.
“We tried to reposition him for sleep, and we kept him sitting up as much as possible even though at that age he could not sit up for himself – we would try to keep him sitting up in a high-chair with toys or a cushion under his head when he was awake and on his back, but no matter what we did including physio and chiro appointments he would favour that side when sleeping.
“One morning I was that upset that I booked him in to see our GP to see if there was anything we could do. That morning I also found a Facebook page about this condition, so I posted our concerns and some photos.
A person in Adelaide reached out through the Facebook page and said they had gone down the assessment and helmeting path with NovitaTech, so I called them and spoke to Allie that day. A couple of days later we had our first head scan, and the results were quite severe. We moved on quickly after seeing those results, and a week after that we had the helmet for him.”
Claire says their NovitaTech orthotist was very supportive.
“Owen was being a little difficult sitting still, so it took a while to get the 3D scan going, and they had to scan a few times around his head. The NovitaTech team were very supportive and gave us plenty of guidance. When the helmet arrived, they showed us how to fit it properly, and he adapted to it well. It did not affect his sleeping at all.
“He was wearing the helmet 23 hours each day, and he did develop some rashes, but otherwise it was really good. He had great results and his condition went from very severe to mild by the end of the process. I would recommend it to anyone who is going through the same thing with their baby.”
NovitaTech orthotist Allie Bisas says parents who have concerns about their baby’s head shape will often come in for an initial assessment appointment.
“We generally see kids aged between four and ten months, and in that initial appointment we discuss with the family what the condition causing the flat spot or misshapen head might be,” says Allie.
“We then provide them with a 3D scan of the child’s head so that we can accurately measure and see if there is any presence of plagiocephaly or brachycephaly. From there the parents have more information about whether they want to move forward with a helmet.
“Parents can be quite anxious when they come in and see us – it is not a very common condition, so often parents tell us that it’s very hard to find information about it. We help parents to better understand any information they have Googled and what the information means.
“The idea of their baby having to wear a helmet can also be quite anxiety-inducing, so we reassure them about how long it might take, and whether helmet therapy is recommended for their child.
“The helmet works by helping to gently round out the head. We work with a company that 3D prints the helmets from on our scans, and they formulate helmet treatment plans which are based on where the high and low spots are on the child’s head. Each helmet is designed specifically for that child.
“The families we meet are lovely and it is so rewarding to be able to help them through what is often a challenging time for parents of newborns – especially if they are first time parents! It is quite a unique experience for parents because not everyone goes through it.
“Our team is focused on being able to provide families with objective, un-biased clinical information and then being able to help them explore pathways – which may include a helmet – to improve their baby’s head shape. It is a privilege to be a part of this journey with families, and we love seeing smiling babies in our clinic,” says Allie.