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What Happens When Your Baby Needs a Helmet

“You’re going to want to keep an eye on that spot. Try to switch up his positioning and use a receiving blanket on either side of his head when he is in a swing or bouncer. That should help.”

These were the instructions from the nurse and the physical therapist when the first of my twin boys, Michael, was discharged from the NICU on April 20, 2016.

“It should correct itself.”

Famous last words.

The spot she was referring to was a slight flat spot on the left side of his head. The spot that did not correct itself and landed us at Cranial Technologies in July for an evaluation to determine whether his flat spot was bad enough to warrant a helmet.

Turns out his plagiocephaly (flat spot) is one of the more severe cases. Figures.

So in case you have ever seen an impossibly adorable child aged 6 months to one year that has a funny helmet looking thing on his head and you wanted to know what it was and why it’s there, well, then, this is the post for you.

baby-needs-a-helmet

Most of the following information is snagged from the Cranial Technologies website.

So what exactly is plagiocephaly?

Plagiocephaly is characterized by the development of a flat spot on the back or side of the head.

How does plagiocephaly happen?

There are a number of factors that contribute to plagiocephaly including:

  • Womb Position
  • Multiple Births
  • Premature Birth
  • Torticollis
  • Carriers & Convenience Devices
  • Back-Sleeping

We have determined that Michael’s plagiocephaly was likely a perfect storm of contributing factors. Severe reflux which caused torticollis is the most likely culprit, though the fact he is a twin and was premature certainly didn’t help.

What is the treatment for Plagiocephaly?

Sometimes, repositioning techniques will do the trick. In our case, it didn’t work. His reflux was too bad and he was doing all he could do to protect his esophagus.

After a follow up appointment with our developmental pediatrician, we called Cranial Technologies for an evaluation to determine whether or not the helmet was our next move.

It was.

And it was a little tough to deal with at first. Guilt was a biggie and it’s an all too familiar feeling. After all, my body is apparently incapable of carrying babies to term and apparently, I couldn’t even manage to keep my baby’s skull from becoming deformed. My little pity party of one lasted for a few weeks. Generally, that’s about how long it will take me to pray, reflect and get over things that cause me a lot of anguish.

So the helmet is actually called a DocBand and it is built to re-shape your baby’s skull. It is rather remarkable how it works. Baby wears it for 23 hours a day for several months and at the end it is as though your baby’s noggin was always beautifully round.

The Process:

  1. Complimentary Evaluation – – At this appointment, the technicians took 3D images of his noggin and we met with the Physical Therapist who measured his head and conducted a fairly in-depth interview. This took about an hour or so.
  2. Insurance Approval – – We waited about 10 days for the insurance gurus at Cranial Technologies to work their magic and were so thrilled to discover that insurance covered it at 100%. If your insurance doesn’t cover it, then the out of pocket cost is around $2500. Note: the 100% part was because we have reached our out of pocket max for the year. Otherwise, it would have been subject to deductible and co-insurance.
  3. Measurement appointment – – At this appointment, more 3D images were taken of his head. Cranial Technologies uses these images to create the DocBand. 15 minutes for this appointment and we were out.
  4. Fitting appointment – – Time to try this sucker on and make adjustments. This appointment takes about an hour.
  5. Weekly adjustment appointments – – Lasting about 20 minutes, the clinicians take measurements and make adjustments as necessary.

Now, when we started this journey, I had 2 friends who sons both had a DocBand. My friend Katy even blogged about it here. Both reassured me, it was easy peasy. Baby didn’t even know he had it on. 2-3 months and it was done.

Well, in case ya’ll didn’t already know this, weird things happen to us. I mean, HELLOOOOO, 2 sets of twins? And if it shouldn’t happen, it probably will. We are now into month 3 and just received our second band. We had some troubles with the first one. It was causing some serious friction which was causing the skin to become dangerously close to breaking down in several spots.

I was driving to and from the Phoenix Children’s Hospital campus (from far east Mesa) 2-3 times per week to try to get the dang thing to fit right. So finally, we (a-hem Cranial Technologies) decided to start over with a brand new band. We just got it on Monday and I am praying hard that we are over the hump and he doesn’t have any adverse reactions.

I’ve been assured by pretty much EVERYONE that what we are going through is very abnormal. His physical therapist, pediatrician, my two friends, everybody on the Internet promise that it should have been easy.

It’s not, but that’s okay. There is a lesson to be learned here and blessings will come, of this I am certain. Christmas is the goal. Hopefully all goes well, the band works it’s magic and at the end of this journey, he has a perfectly round little head.

 

 

 

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