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Plagiocephaly - helmet therapy

  • Pronounced: Play-gee-o-kef-a-lee

    Plagiocephaly is the most common craniofacial problem today. Deformational plagiocephaly, also known as positional plagiocephaly, means a mis-shapen or uneven (asymmetrical) head shape. Plagiocephaly does not affect the development of an infant's brain, but if not treated it may change an infant's physical appearance by causing uneven growth of their face and head. See the factsheet Plagiocephaly- misshapen head.

    Caring for a child with a helmet

    You have been referred for helmet therapy to help treat your child's plagiocephaly. The helmet helps to re-shape the skull by taking pressure off the flat area, allowing the skull to grow into the space provided. Helmets work best between five and eight months of age.Wearing the helmet doesn't hurt and babies usually get used to it very quickly. Parents can feel quite emotional when their child first wears the helmet. It can be helpful to know this is a common feeling and to remember treatment is temporary and outcomes are normally very good. 

    Wearing regime:

    • Helmets are usually worn for a 2 hours on/2 hours off cycle for the first two days to allow you to monitor your child's skin and for your child to get used to the helmet. Following a review approximately two days after fitting, the orthotist will begin your child on a 23 hours a day wearing regime. Reviews are then usually conducted approximately every three weeks by the orthotist.

    Things to look for:

    • There is some space in the helmet for the ears. Make sure the ears sit comfortably in these spaces and the helmet is not twisted.
    • When you take the helmet off, check the skin to make sure there is no rubbing/blisters/broken skin (skin breakdown) from the helmet. Mild redness over the high spots of the head is OK. 
    • You can put sorbolene cream on dry skin/mild rashes. You can buy sorbolene from your local chemist. 
    • If the dry skin or rash does not get better call your orthotist. The telephone number is below.
    • During hot summer days it is a good idea to dress your child in light clothing, rather than taking the helmet off, to cool them down.

    Cleaning your helmet:

    • Your child's head will become sweaty from the helmet. You must wash their hair daily and clean the inside of the helmet with a soft nailbrush/face washer and warm soapy water. Rinse well and towel dry.

    For more information

    PLEASE CONTACT YOUR ORTHOTIST IF YOU HAVE ANY QUERIES OR CONCERNS REGARDING YOUR CHILDS HELMET THERAPY

            
    Your Orthotist is _________________________   

    Royal Children's Hospital     
    Orthotic Prosthetic Unit
    T: (03) 9345 5870
    Flemington Rd, Parkville 3052
    E: orthotic.prosthetic@rch.org.au

    Developed by RCH Orthotic Department with material from the Department of Plastic Surgery.  Many thanks to the parents who helped with this fact sheet. First published February 2005. Updated in November 2010.
Disclaimer
This is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easily understood. The Royal Children's Hospital accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in the handouts.
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