Infant helmet therapy, or cranial remolding orthosis, is a type of remolding therapy that treats plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome) in infants.
Helmet therapy corrects the baby's head shape over time by redirecting the natural head growth.
At a young age, a child's head is very soft and prone to remolding from external pressure. Flat spots can form on babies' heads from activities like sleeping on their back or using a car seat.
Torticollis also increases the risk of flat spots by causing the baby to favor one side while lying down.
But in some cases, or for moderate to severe flat spots, the condition doesn't go away on its own. An external force caused the condition, so in some cases an external force is also necessary to correct the head shape.
During treatment, the helmet applies gentle holding pressures to specific parts of the head. As the head grows with age, the helmet helps to redirect growth toward the affected areas.
But not every cranial molding helmet works the same way:
Active therapy devices like The DOC Band apply a custom corrective pressure that actively redirects head growth. We customize the helmet for the baby's specific head shape, which also promotes shortened treatment time.
Passive therapy devices only allow for the baby's head to grow into the mold overtime.
If the flat spots don't go away after frequent repositioning and tummy time, your doctor may prescribe a helmet. However, no two cases of plagiocephaly are alike, and age plays an important factor in the course of treatment.
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Note: Helmet therapy is not used to treat craniosynostosis, a condition where the skull sutures close prematurely. In this case, doctors will recommend surgery to fix both the condition and the resulting head shape.
Frequently asked questions
During treatment, the baby wears the band for 23 hours per day, with 1 hour breaks for bathing and/or band cleaning. Since treatment is time-dependent, the band must be worn nearly at all times to ensure optimal results.
The holding pressure applied is very gentle and no different than if they were lying on their backs.
Most parents report that their babies typically adjust to the band within 24 hours. This includes during activities like sleeping or playing.
The DOC Band uses hypoallergenic materials that suit even the most sensitive skin.
The length of treatment depends on the severity of their condition and the age of the baby.
Most treatment times are between 6 to 16 weeks. Starting treatment earlier (between 4 and 6 months) reduces overall treatment time and promotes optimal results.
In some cases, a baby would benefit from a second band. In practice, we find that approximately 15% of babies continue treatment with a second band.
A baby's head doubles in size within the first 6 months of age. But it only grows an additional 50% to age 2, where the head shape is mostly set for life.
Experts recommend starting treatment between the ages of 4-6 months during a period of rapid head growth. Although, helmet therapy can be effective for infants up to 18 months of age.
Cranial Technologies offers 90+ plagiocephaly clinics nationwide so you can find treatment close to home. If you have concerns about your baby's head shape, you can schedule a free evaluation at a location near you.