Cranial Remolding Orthosis (Helmet)

10:36:00 PM

A Cranial Remolding Orthosis is a helmet that babies can wear to help correct an asymmetrical head shape.  Porter has a flat spot or "asymmetry" on the back part of his head and to try to make it as symmetrical as possible he will be wearing this helmet for two-three months.

We started to notice the flatness on one side of his head at about three months old.  This could have been caused by sleeping on his back.  Helmets have become more common now that babies spend most of the time on their backs.  There are many factors that could have played a part in causing this, but what we believed caused it is something to consider since I think it could happen to anyone.  Every night we would complete our nightly routine: Drew would read from our baby Bible and I would breast feed on the left side and then the right.  I would carry Porter into his crib and lay him down the exact same way every time.  (Porter slept in his crib at three weeks and slept through the night at about nine weeks, so we did not want to change this routine since it worked!)  Laying him down with his head facing the same way every night caused one side of his neck to have more range of flexibility than the other.  This is known as torticollis in the medical world. So not only was Porter favoring one side at night in his crib but he was also doing this in his car seat, swing, high chair, etc... This lead to a flatness on one side.

Our pediatrician was not worried at all.  She suggested some positioning to try in the crib using a wedge to allow Porter to lean to the other side.  Drew is a newly certified orthotist and actually works in the office that fits children for helmets.  We decided to take him to the lady in his office who specializes in this area and get her opinion.  They measure the distance diagonally across the head on both sides, and compare the difference between the two. This measurement is called the cranial vault asymmetry. Porters asymmetry was 9mm of difference from one side to the other.

We were shown stretches to be done at each diaper change to help with the torticollis.  These stretches were miserable for our little one and it made your heart break every time we did them.  But if we could get his neck more flexible then he would not always favor one side and it would allow the flat side to fill in.  We were also told to remove the head support in our car seat that was causing Porters head to be stable in one position, and to move his toys hanging on the car seat to the other side so he would be forced off his flat spot.  Porters asymmetry went from a 9mm difference to a 7mm difference.  This was only after a few weeks of stretches and small changes in his routine.  We were told this is a common measurement for Porter's generation of babies because of the "back to sleep" program.  Meaning his head flatness would not be much different than many babies his age, so this may not be something to really worry about.

Around this time Porter started to roll over.  He would roll himself over in the middle of the night to sleep on his stomach.  We assumed this would help with the flatness...
As Drew became more proficient at his job he was asked to assist in the specialty of cranial remolding or helmets.  He was trained on how to evaluate, scan, and fit cranial helmets.  Drew wanted to use Porter as a guinea pig to scan like he would any other child being fitted for a helmet.  

 This is what it looks like while scanning the head with the "wand."  It's actually kind of cool.  They scan to get the exact shape and measurements of the head to make a helmet that would perfectly fit the head.  (Drew says this is how they make masks for movies and such.)   After scanning, this brought up the conversation that his head is still not symmetrical.  As parents who want to do what is best for their child we discussed again doing the helmet for Porter.  Our deciding factors were it could only benefit Porter in the long run, and since Drew works for the company it would be at no cost to us.  We felt this was an opportunity we would regret not taking.  Not to mention the timing is good since I am home for the summer and we will not have to put this off on our baby sitter.

We  have been given this opportunity to make Porter's head more symmetrical.  I know Porter will struggle a little with the change and extra head gear that has to be worn at least 23 hours a day.  Please keep Porter in your prayers and I hope this can help other parents prevent this from happening to their baby.  Look for more post to come or follow my blog.

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  1. Hello, my daughter also has torticollis and we have noticed some asymmetry with her head. We are trying to decide if we should go ahead with getting a helmut for her. Her asymmetry is also 7mm like your sons. Could you please update on how it has been going with your son wearing the helmut. Also has the asymmetry improved after a couple of months? Is it worth it? Thank you