What is Plagiocephaly?
Plagiocephaly is a term to describe flattening on one side of the skull. It is most common in infants but can also occur later in life, especially after an injury when a person is bedridden.
What causes Plagiocephaly?
Plagiocephaly often starts in-utero and is a result of restriction of space. However, it can also be caused after birth if a child has a preference to look to one side caused by torticollis, or tight neck muscles. Plagiocephaly and torticollis are often linked and many babies with plagiocephaly have torticollis, or tightness on one side of their neck.
How do I know if my child has Plagiocephaly?
Diagnosis of plagiocephaly is based on physical examination and medical history. A physician will evaluate symmetry on both sides of the skull. If one side is more flat than the other and is affecting alignment of the facial bones and skull formation, a diagnosis of plagiocephaly is made.
How can I help treat my child’s condition?
Treatment for plagiocephaly is dependent on the age of the child and the severity of the condition. A head shaping orthosis, with a similar look to a helmet, can be prescribed by a physician to treat the condition. Generally, these head shaping helmets are very light, only about 5 ounces, so the baby does not even know that they are on. The head shaping helmets are worn for, on average, 12 weeks and results are very good. If the child also has related torticollis, physical therapy is necessary to help balance both muscles on either side of the neck. By treating torticollis, often times the baby will be able to look both directions evenly and the head will round out on its own.
Our approach at North Shore Pediatric Therapy
At North Shore Pediatric Therapy, we use stretching and strengthening techniques to help balance the muscles in the neck so a child will be able to look both directions equally. Over time, therapy will help a child’s head round out properly as they will not be spending as much time on the flat spot on their head. If necessary, it will be recommended that a head shaping orthosis be made to correct the plagiocephaly. A specific treatment plan will be followed with timely goals and plans of action to help your child be the best they can be. A home exercise program will also be taught to the parents and/or caregivers so proper follow-through can be completed at home.