Plagiocephaly and Helmet Therapy

Helmet therapy is a type of treatment for children who have been diagnosed with plagiocephaly. Plagiocephaly means an abnormal head shape that can be a result of positional molding or closure of one of the skull’s soft spots earlier than expected. If your child has plagiocephaly from positioning, helmet therapy may be used as a treatment to remold the head into a more normal head shape.

What causes positional molding?

Positional molding can occur as a result of your child sleeping on the back of his/her head, which is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the "Back To Sleep" campaign to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Positional molding can also occur because of tight neck muscles or torticollis.

What is helmet therapy?

Positional molding, if detected early enough, may improve on its own within the first six months of life with position changes alone. Dr. Aboutanos has seen improvement in patients with moderate to severe positional molding with helmet therapy. Helmet therapy is indicated for children under 14 to 18 months of age. The helmet is typically used 23 hours a day for an average of three months. Most children are able to get used to the helmet within the first few days of use.

How is the helmet made?

An orthotist company makes a helmet that is specifically designed to fit your child's head shape and size. Dr. Aboutanos and the orthotist will see your child frequently to track your child's progress and head growth.

What else should I know about this procedure?

Dr. Aboutanos is a member of the accredited Cleft and Craniofacial Team at St. Mary’s Hospital, and she will help coordinate your child's care with other specialists in a multi-disciplinary manner. There has been a variable response by insurance companies regarding helmet therapy. If you have questions about coverage for helmet therapy, please contact your insurance company directly. Dr. Aboutanos will assist you with this process.