How is torticollis associated with plagiocephaly?

Many babies who are treated for plagiocephaly also have torticollis. You may have noticed it as soon as your baby was born, though it could appear later. The baby’s head may tilt to one side, giving him a limited range of motion. Torticollis, or wry neck, can result from placement in utero or the birth process. It may also appear when babies are constantly in the same position in car seats, swings, etc. and do not turn their necks to both sides. Because the baby favors one side, they may develop plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome) in addition to torticollis.

To treat torticollis, doctors first advise repositioning techniques for babies under 4 months old before they prescribe cranial helmet therapy. Parents are instructed to alternate the sides in which they hold their babies, lay them down to sleep and interact with them.

Cranial Technologies’ works closely with the family and their independent therapist; and our clinical staff include physical, occupational therapists, pediatric nurses and orthotists who are trained to identify torticollis and demonstrate stretching exercises that can be done at home during DOC Band therapy.

Visit our Cranial Technologies’ head shape section to learn more, or contact us today for a free head shape evaluation.

Should you wait to see if your baby’s head will round out?

Repositioning can be effective for children less than 4 months old. However, due to the dramatic increase in the severity of head shapes, our research hasn’t shown self-correction. The best rule of thumb is to remember that it took an external force to cause the deformity, so it will take an external force to correct it. Once the baby is sitting up and moving about, the skull is continuing to harden and there aren’t any external forces that will direct the growth of the head into a symmetrical shape.

When making the decision to treat, it’s often helpful for parents to ask themselves, “Will I be happy with my child’s head shape and facial features if facial asymmetry is present, when my child is 5 years old? 10 years old? 20 years old? 30 years old?”

Adults and parents of older children often contact us to find out if cranial helmets are available for them. Unfortunately, the skull is finished growing by the time a person is 2 years old, and a helmet won’t fix a misshapen head.

Visit our Cranial Technologies’ head shape section to learn more, or contact us today for a free head shape evaluation.

How can I tell if my baby has plagiocephaly, brachycephaly or scaphocephaly?

When your baby is born, the skull is very soft and malleable to allow for brain growth. It may have an odd shape simply from passing through the birth canal. But by the time your baby reaches 3 months old, the head shape should have improved. If you look at your baby’s head from the top (birds-eye view), you can check for these signs of plagiocephaly:

  • Head appears to be pushed forward, often accompanied by misalignment of the ears
  • Facial asymmetry
  • Bulging forehead
  • One cheek may appear “fuller”
  • Top of head slopes in one direction

In addition, there are other types of misshapen head syndrome:

Brachycephaly – head is wider and taller than normal with a flat back.

Scaphocephaly – common in NICU and preemie babies. The head is long and narrow and the forehead may be square.

All of these misshapen head conditions can be treated with cranial helmet therapy using the DOC Band. Visit our Cranial Technologies’ head shape section to learn more, or contact us today for a free head shape evaluation.