positional plagiocephaly


What is Plagiocephaly?

In broad terms Plagiocephaly is a condition characterised by a flattening on one side of the back of the head. It may also involve bulging of the forehead, fullness of the cheek and ear misalignment on the same side as the flattening. In our experience there are two different forms of the condition: deformational and positional.

Deformational Plagiocephaly is caused by the stresses and strains of the birth process ;this is confirmed by studies that have analysed new born babies as the incidence is raised amongst twins, first born and males. The asymmetry is caused as the baby is born.

The second form is Positional Plagiocephaly and this occurs after birth. Main causes are prematurity(and therefore time spent supine in a neo-natal unit), torticollis ,which is a medical condition and requires physiotherapy to loosen neck muscles, but the primary cause is an unfortunate result of the Backs To Sleep campaign introduced in the early1990s to help prevent SIDS(Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).There seems to be a direct statistical link because of the measured increase in the incidence of Plagiocephaly after the campaign’s introduction. However because of the number of lives that have been saved by the Backs To Sleep campaign there is no suggestion that parents should ignore this advice.

Prevention of Positional Plagiocephaly

Until 6-7 months of age repositioning and tummy time techniques may be enough to encourage either natural correction of head shape or prevention of the development of the condition. At night time alternate the end of the cot where the baby lays its head. Always turn the baby’s head so that it does not lie on the flattened side.

Tummy Time

During the day the baby should be encouraged to spend as much time as possible on its stomach. Most babies dislike this initially as they do not have the strength to hold their head up. However, it is important to persevere and gradually build up the length of time spent on their tummy. This helps them build strength in their neck and trunk muscles.

Treatment of Positional Plagiocephaly

If repositioning techniques have not brought about sufficient improvement, then Cranial Remoulding Therapy is an option.

To provide the essential accurate measurements for the baby’s Cranial Remoulding Orthosis, LOC uses a highly advanced laser scanner in conjunction with 3D imaging. The scanner works by casting a harmless fan of laser light over the baby’s head and instantly reconstructs a 3D computer model. The baby is able to sit in the comfort of its parent’s lap and even move its head while being scanned.

The London Orthotic Consultancy manufactures its own Cranial Remoulding Orthosis – the LOCband. Each LOCband is manufactured individually for each baby based on the clinician’s exact specifications and under their direct supervision. The LOCband is non-invasive and works by applying a gentle constant pressure over the areas of the baby’s skull which are most prominent while allowing unrestricted growth over the flattened areas. The band consists of a soft foam layer inside a thermoplastic shell. This allows for frequent adjustments during treatment in response to the changes in the baby’s head shape as treatment progresses.

Treatment is most effective in babies between 4-7 moths old when the skull is still malleable. It akes between 3-6 months depending on the original severity of the asymmetry and the responsiveness of the individual baby. Babies up to the age of 18 months can be treated but treatment may take longer.

LOC’S Plagiocephaly Clinic at The Beechwood Practice

The Clinic runs weekly on a Friday. Making the decision to embark on Cranial Remoulding therapy can be difficult and naturally causes anxiety for parents:

LOC therefore offers a Free No Obligation initial assessment. During this consultation Gemma will establish the severity of your baby’s condition and discuss the treatment options available.

 Appointments can be made by phoning LOC’s main clinic in Kingston:  020 8974 9989.