SUCCESS STORY: CHARLIE (4.5 month old at first consult)
When did you start to notice that your baby has a flat spot/flat head?
I actually noticed that my child had a head preference to one side very early on as early as 2 weeks and tried to start repositioning, I guess we noticed the flat spot from around 5-6 weeks.
Were you aware of the flat head syndrome (a.k.a Plagiocephaly)?
Yes! I actually have some experience working as an Allied Health Professional, so if I am honest I was a little bit embarrassed that I wasn’t able to correct and prevent the plagiocephaly myself. However when I had mentioned it to health nurses and my GP back home in Australia they didn’t think it was an issue, so I continued my attempts at positioning, moved his cot around the room and slept with him to encourage him to turn his head to the other side.
Did you (and where did you) bring your baby for a proper assessment?
We moved back to Singapore when my son was 3 months and I took him to the paediatrician for his 4 month immunisations. I mentioned that his head was my main concern and the paed agreed it needed to be acted on. She referred me to a plastic surgeon, who wanted to do an MRI, but I had heard about Orthopaedia and wanted to hear them out first before having an MRI. My son was 4 months at our first appointment at Orthopaedia and was fitted with his helmet just before 5 months. We also began seeing an Osteopath to treat his underlying torticollis.
Were you able to find information on flat head syndrome easily?
I knew the basics, but found it a bit difficult to know what the current research supported in terms of interventions. I also had an older child, and no family support, so my brain was a bit muddled to complete literature searches.
What was the first thing you attempt to do to correct your baby’s head? (for eg, re-positioning)
We did loads of tummy time early on, I moved his cot in the room to encourage him to turn to the other side. In play I tried lots of side lying propped with rolled wraps, and many nights I would go in when he was asleep and turn his head to the other side, he would just turn it back again though. I didn’t use props in his bed to encourage him to turn to the other side, as at the time I was concerned about SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome)*.
When you were told about the cranial remoulding helmet therapy as the treatment option for your baby, how did you feel?
To be honest in addition to my feelings of embarrassment (and a little bit of failure) I was worried that helmet therapy was a bit of an extreme intervention! I also worried about little things and some silly things! How hot was it going to be for my child in Singapore? How much was I going to have to keep him indoors? He had just started sleeping 12 hours straight – how am I going to go back to waking at night multiple times again?? and the silly one ‘will people still think he is cute?’
I quickly realised how children just adapt. After a few days he largely adjusted to the heat, there are still times where I take off the helmet when we are out to let his head breathe, then just put it back on. Yes people stare, which often is quite amusing to watch, but most people find it cute, I have even had people approach me for advice on what shop to buy it from as if it’s a fashion accessory!
How would you describe the therapy journey?
It’s been really satisfying. The staff at Orthopaedia have always been so positive and motivating, and contactable. They always took the time to answer any concerns I had, especially early on. Seeing results so quickly was so rewarding. There are days (and nights!) where he is unsettled and it’s easy to blame it on the helmet, but to be honest it’s more often something else (sore tummy, teeth).
What really helped us was having an all or nothing approach. If he was going to have to wear a helmet I decided that I would strictly adhere to all the fitting regime, especially early on, to achieve the maximum results in the minimum time. We saw it like you would a broken leg, the plaster needs to stay on until the leg is healed and it’s the same for the helmet.
What would be your advice for mommies of fellow flat-head babies with regards to the cranial remoulding therapy?
Someone said this to me, and it was the best thing I could have heard ‘you won’t regret it’. And we didn’t. I was quite concerned about my son’s head shape, as my husband has lost some hair on top, so a nice head will be a big asset for him later in life. We were lucky enough to have had it fitted at a great time, as my sons head grew quickly after we started wearing the helmet. We saw real change in just one week that we definitely would not have achieved without the helmet. Listen to the girls at Orthopaedia, they know their stuff!
Finally, do you have any other comments, feedback or words of wisdom to add?
Trust your instincts!! As a parent or primary caregiver you know your child best, and if you think that there is an issue don’t be scared to find someone that will listen to your concerns and act appropriately.
By Rebecca, A Happy Mommy