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Cranial Technologies is making helmets to help children

Cranial Technologies is making helmets to help children
Cranial Technologies is making helmets to help children
Courtesy Cranial Technologies

Nothing is more important than a child. Today more than ever before, you may notice babies as young as 4 months old sporting decorated helmets. Though you may wonder if the baby has had a serious accident, in fact, the baby is probably in perfect health. The helmet is helping to reshape the baby's flat head and the effects last into adulthood.

Cranial Technologies, the leader in the treatment of plagiocephaly (also referred to as flat head syndrome), is opening its third Illinois clinic today to help children. Using its FDA-cleared DOC Band® cranial helmet, Cranial Technologies treats brachycephaly, in which a baby's head is flat across the back, and nearly as wide as it is long, in addition to the other forms of misshapen head:

1. Plagiocephaly - diagonally-opposing corners of the head become prominent.

2. Scaphocephaly - the head is long and narrow. Premature babies who spend time in a NICU may develop long, narrow heads.

Cranial helmet therapy may help babies avoid complications later in life, according to Tim Littlefield, a biomedical engineer and vice president at Cranial Technologies. "Craniofacial studies have suggested that changes to the skull base may also impact the soft tissue of the upper airway, narrowing that passage and potentially increasing the risk of obstructive sleep apnea. It isn't uncommon for parents of older children to report having to purchase adult-sized helmets to accommodate for the increased width of their child's head, but then discovering that the helmet tends to fall into the child's face," said Littlefield. "When considering the sporting and recreational activities that now require the use of protective helmets, this is no small consideration and impacts not only the child's participation, but also how well they are protected,” Littlefield said.

"After noticing our daughter's cranial needs at 4 months old, we went in for a consultation," said Heather McNeice of Downers Grove. "She had plagiocephaly with moderate brachycephaly and asymmetries of her skull. She completed therapy with an amazing therapist and now has a gorgeously symmetrical head," McNeice said.

Doctors and Cranial Technologies clinicians advise parents to try repositioning techniques for two months before getting their baby's head shape evaluated for helmet therapy. Repositioning includes regularly alternating sides when holding, feeding and interacting with their babies, or placing them in cribs.

Flat head syndrome has become more common since the AAP advised parents to lay babies on their backs to sleep in response to the SIDS epidemic in the '80s. As a result, babies spend more time in carriers, swings and convenience devices. The AAP now also recommends "tummy time," supervised awake-time activity to reduce the time babies spend on their backs.

Cranial Technologies encourages beginning treatment for babies between 4 to 6 months old. Parents can schedule a free evaluation that includes a 3D digital image analysis. Treatment begins once babies receive their custom DOC Band, and they return for regular growth adjustments. Treatment times vary depending on severity and the baby's age.

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