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Head Shape Anomalies: Cranial Remolding

History

Historically, babies spent most of their waking and sleeping time on their bellies. However, in the 1990s, the “Back to Sleep” campaign was launched, encouraging parents to position babies on their back while sleeping to reduce the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). While the incidence of SIDS decreased, there was a significant increase in babies with head shape abnormalities. In addition, muscle tightness and/or weakness can play a significant role in affecting a baby's head shape.

The following information describes our approach to head shape treatment. Please contact our office at 312.227.6210 for further guidance.

The Lurie Children's Difference

The Department of Orthotics and Prosthetics has been treating head shape abnormalities for many years. Our process for evaluation and treatment has improved and changed over time. We now partner with plastic surgery and physical therapy within our Head Shape Evaluation Program to provide a comprehensive approach to treatment. We also work with neurosurgery and general pediatrics to ensure your baby is accurately diagnosed. We treat babies with head shape abnormalities, including:

  • Positional plagiocephaly
  • Positional brachycephaly
  • Positional asymmetric brachycephaly
  • Post-operative craniosynostosis 

Our team typically evaluates babies for helmet therapy when they are between three and seven months old. In addition to helmet therapy, we address a rehabilitative training process to teach parents good positioning to improve head shape and promote normal motor development. In efforts to reduce positional head shape abnormalities and strengthen muscles that cannot be used while a baby is on their back, we encourage families to practice tummy time with their babies for half of the time they are awake.

What to Expect

Consultation

Our team will perform a clinical evaluation, take measurements, obtain a simple scan if needed of your baby’s head and discuss your concerns. If a cranial remolding orthosis is recommended, our team will begin your insurance authorization process. You will then receive a follow-up phone call from us within a few weeks to schedule your next few appointments.

Evaluation

At the evaluation appointment we will obtain new measurements, a new scan, and ask that you select a color or pattern for the helmet. The scan will be used to create a custom-made helmet to fit your baby’s head. Fabrication of the helmet typically takes two weeks; However, if your baby is undergoing a surgical procedure to correct craniosynostosis, timing for evaluation scanning and helmet delivery varies depending on your surgical plan.

Delivery Appointment

The delivery appointment will last about 1 hour. Your orthotist will adjust the helmet to ensure it fits appropriately and will also discuss a gradual break-in period, along with care and use instructions.

Routine Helmet Follow Up Appointments

Follow-up is an important part of the program; your child’s helmet will need to be periodically checked and adjusted due to growth and progress. The initial follow-up will be 7-10 days after the delivery appointment to ensure a good fit and address any issues. We will schedule routine follow-ups every 2-4 weeks until helmet therapy is discontinued. The average total treatment time is typically 3-6 months. Routine measurements and adjustments are performed at follow-up visits.

Make an Appointment

After receiving a helmet referral from a physician, you can make an appointment to have your child evaluated by calling 1.800.KIDS DOC (1.800.543.7362) or calling our office at 312.227.6210.

For a full head shape evaluation, you can schedule an appointment with our Plastic Surgery’s Head Shape Evaluation Program to receive consultation from a team of experts in plastic surgery, physical therapy and orthotics. Please obtain a referral from your medical provider for plastic surgery and call 312.227.6250 to schedule a head shape clinic evaluation.

Appointments with the Head Shape Evaluation Program are available at the following locations.

Appointments with the orthotics department are available at the following locations.

Resources

For more information, please refer to the resources below: 

Philanthropy

Your support is vital in helping us continue to make a difference in the lives of patients and families. Lurie Children's relies on philanthropic funding to enhance its programs, services and research for children. To learn more, please e-mail the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Foundation at foundation@luriechildrens.org or call 312.227.7500