Common Questions

COMMON QUESTIONS

What is Plagiocephaly?


The term “Deformational Plagiocephaly” describes an infant cranium that is asymmetrically shaped due to mechanical forces. The Back to Sleep campaign that was introduced by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1992 recommended a supine sleeping position (sleeping on the back) to reduce the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. An unexpected consequence of the supine sleeping position was a significant increase in deformational plagiocephaly. Beside the supine sleeping position, there are numerous other risk factors for infants, many of which are avoidable. Extended time in car seats, carriers and swings, for example, can often be the culprit. In most cases, early intervention, such as “tummy time” and repositioning, can prevent this problem.

Can my baby’s irregular head shape resolve itself without a helmet?


Before recommending helmet therapy, pediatricians and physical therapists commonly encourage parents to try repositioning and “tummy time” with infants whose heads show signs of asymmetrical shaping. Parents are advised to limit their baby’s time in car seats, carriers and swings, while supervising play time on the tummy. These simple efforts often solve the problem.

When are cranial remolding helmets necessary?


Cranial remolding helmets are necessary when an infant’s asymmetrically shaped cranium does not respond to early intervention efforts, such as “tummy time” and repositioning. Helmet therapy has proved to be successful for most infants.

Is there an optimum age at which to begin helmet therapy?


Generally speaking, the younger the infant, the more effective the helmet therapy will be. Though babies up to a year old can benefit from remolding helmets, we prefer to start therapy at a much younger age, when the infant’s cranium is at its most malleable.

How do cranial remolding helmets work?


Cranial remolding helmets work in a very passive manner. Basically, the asymmetrical cranium is fit into a symmetrically shaped helmet, slowly stopping the deforming process by applying mild pressure to the cranial areas that are growing and shifting. This allows the growing and malleable cranium to conform gradually to the symmetrical helmet.

How long will helmet therapy take?


Several factors contribute to the duration of helmet therapy. More time is usually required to correct severe deformation. The infant’s age is also a factor. Generally speaking, the younger the infant, the more effective the helmet therapy. Though babies up to a year old can benefit from remolding helmets, we prefer to start therapy at a much younger age, when the infant’s cranium is at its most malleable.

How many office visits are associated with helmet therapy?


  1. At the first appointment, an evaluation or consultation, the practitioner will measure the infant’s head to determine the severity of deformation. If the infant is a candidate for helmet therapy, we will proceed with requesting insurance authorization.
  2. Once insurance authorization is obtained, we will schedule the next appointment, where a 3D scan of the baby’s head shape is taken using SmartSoc technology. A custom helmet is then created using the digital rendering.
  3. About one week after the scanning comes the delivery appointment. At this time, the practitioner will try the helmet on the infant, making as many adjustments as necessary to ensure a good fit.
  4. Follow up appointments are scheduled one week and three weeks after the delivery appointment.
  5. Monthly follow ups continue until helmet therapy is complete.

Who will be fitting my baby’s helmet?


Stan Gautier, CPO, began his cranial remolding helmet training with George Madden, CPO, in 1998 in Missoula. Prior to establishing his private practice in Missoula, George was involved in developing an original design for helmet fabrication and treatment protocols at Loma Linda University. He routinely saw and treated cranial deformities with remolding helmets that were made in house at Summit O&P. They enjoyed an excellent success rate, with almost complete correction in most cases.

Stan has a very good success rate with cranial remolding helmets.

Where is my baby’s helmet made?


The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) requires that helmets be fabricated at an FDA regulated facility. Stan uses Orthomerica, an FDA approved central fabrication facility, for all his helmets. Orthomerica fabricates an average of 1000 helmets per month for patients around the world, giving them an incredible amount of experience that Stan can draw upon when needed.

How can I learn more about cranial remolding helmets?


Please visit STARband® and the STAR Cranial Center of Excellence to learn more about Orthomerica’s cranial remolding helmets.
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