When my son Michael was very young - just a month old - I noticed the shape of his head was not normal. The rear, right-side of his head appeared to be flat.
I mentioned my concerns to his pediatrician who seemed unbothered by his appearance. She suggested I rotate him from side-to-side, which she said would help the condition of his head. My gut feeling was that this wasn’t enough. As days passed, I noticed my son would look at me with his head slightly turned to the side. I thought this was odd. So I flew home to Maryland to seek the advice of my childhood pediatrician. He agreed that my son’s head was not symmetrical and he could use a “baby helmet” or a cranial band. He also mentioned that he had seen heads much worse than Michael’s improve overtime on its own without the device.
Great, now I was thoroughly confused and extremely concerned.
A cranial band, or a baby helmet, is an orthotic that helps to reshape the skull and improve jaw alignment. Babies who wear cranial bands often suffer from plagiocephaly (asymmetrical flattening of the skull) or brachycephaly (when the back of the head becomes flattened).
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When Michael turned two-months old, my family moved to Charlotte. Our new pediatrician took one look at him and said his head would improve slightly, but he still needed a cranial band. He referred us to Carolina Kinder Development for treatment. The owner made a mold of Michael’s head and within a couple weeks we had a blue, custom cranial band. Over the next four months he wore the band about 23 hours per day. I only removed the band during bath time and for cleaning the band itself. The baby helmet along with physical therapy greatly improved his head shape and range of neck motion.
Three years later Michael’s head isn’t 100% symmetrical, but I am pleased with the results. The shape of this head has dramatically improved, his ears are evenly placed and his jaw is properly aligned. Most people are unaware of his previous condition.
So here are a few quick tips to help if you and your family are in this situation:
Do your research. Make sure you are well informed during your doctor visits and that all of your questions are answered.
Contact your insurance provider. We paid about $3000 out of pocket for Michael’s cranial band. However, I met many people who said their kids’ bands were covered by insurance.
Trust your gut. If you are not satisfied with what doctors are telling you, seek the advice of another medical professional.
Talk it out. Michael’s cranial band was a conversation starter in many public settings. From BJ’s to Nordstrom, moms and dads of all backgrounds asked me about my kid’s cranial band. Some had gone through the treatment and offered advice, others were just curious.
Cranial bands are a commitment. The orthotic must be worn 23 hours per day for a few months. The more you wear it, the better your results will be.