As a clinician with Cranial Technologies the first thing I looked at when my second daughter Cora was born was the shape of her head. It was perfect, at first. She was a large baby (10 lbs 13 oz), great sleeper, and had a strong right rotation preference. At around two weeks I started to notice some flattening on the right side of her head.
So, for the next two months we worked diligently on repositioning in hopes plagiocephaly could be avoided. Every few minutes I felt like I was rotating her head back to the left. I instructed family members on how she must be held in order to keep her from looking right. I changed sleeping and feeding positions. But my little girl was very stubborn and on top of a rotation preference she cried every time I placed her on her tummy.
When Cora was three months old I made a consult appointment at Cranial Technologies to find out just how severe her flat spot was. While sitting in the consult room waiting for my fellow clinician Rachel to give us her recommendation I felt nervous. Was it going to be as bad as I thought? When Rachel brought up Cora’s image I could tell right away my baby needed a band. What happened next surprised me…I cried! I knew that plagiocephaly was treatable, but looking at the images of my baby’s misshapen head I couldn’t help but think, “How could I let this happen? I’m a physical therapist for goodness sake!
Two weeks later Cora was fit with her first band. Looking back, I had a lot of anxiety about her starting treatment. I was worried about what people would think, how much would she improve, and how quickly she would improve. I somehow figured that since I’m a clinician she would get through treatment in record time with a ‘perfect’ head (all while knowing as a clinician that there is no such thing as a perfect head).
One thing I’ve learned in my adult life is that nothing ever goes as you plan. As Cora got to the end of her first band I knew she needed a second and felt once again that I had failed her. After seven weeks in the DOC Band Cora’s head shape did improve, however much of her forehead and ear asymmetry hung on. The mother side of me struggled with the decision to do a second band but after consulting several senior clinicians I decided that going into a second band would be the best thing for my little girl. I know that a second band will further improve facial and ear symmetry, decrease her risks of poor safety helmet fit and reduce the risks of jaw alignment issues.
As we’re coming to the midway point of Cora’s second band and I’m writing this blog I’ve had time to reflect on the past few months and have composed a list of what I will take away from this experience as both a mom and a clinician.
- When a parent says, “My kid hates tummy time,” I know the struggle is real. Nobody wants to make their baby cry. But for those parents whose baby doesn’t like tummy time, it gets better! Try something that is flashy and blinks, it will easily distract baby for several minutes a few times a day.
- For the first couple of weeks the band feels like another child; you must know where it is at all times and you have to keep it clean.
- It is common for a parent to feel guilty your child was diagnosed with plagiocephaly. I felt that way and I’ve had many parents tell me they feel the same. It’s important to acknowledge those feeling but then let it go! I knew that I tried my best to keep Cora from having a flat head and that is all I could do. Most parents have never heard of plagiocephaly and therefore don’t know to reposition their baby. At least there is something that can be done to improve baby’s head shape.
- Deciding to do a second band is a tough decision, not because of the commitment but because I had to accept that my initial expectations were not necessarily realistic. As a parent and a clinician, it’s important to focus on the positive and not perseverate on what your expected outcome was.
- Going through with treatment in a DOC Band is totally worth it! By placing my baby in a band, I know that I have done everything in my power to reduce any functional implications from plagiocephaly.
- It’s going to feel REALLY good to graduate!
I am forever grateful for my career at Cranial Technologies. As a clinician, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I make difference every day. As a mommy, I knew I could rely on Rachel and all the employees at Cranial Technologies to guide us through the process of placing sweet Cora in a band.
Ally Jobe is a Physical Therapist and a clinician with Cranial Technologies in the Fort Worth, TX clinic. She has specialized in pediatric physical therapy since graduating from the University of North Texas Health Science Center with her doctorate in PT. Ally has written a blog describing her perspective as a clinician and as a mother having her second child treated for plagiocephaly in the DOC Band.