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Cranial Helmets Make a Difference for Texas Children

By on March 27, 2012 in Central Texas, Featured with 0 Comments

by Health News Texas Staff

San Antonio pediatrician Dr. Brooks Hagee is the mother to 20-month-old daughter Caroline. Hagee, whose practice treat infants and consuls families on child medical issues, noticed her daughter had flatness in the back of her head, her forehead bulged out and one side of her face seemed fuller than the other.

At four months old Caroline was evaluated by a neurosurgeon. She was diagnosed with plagiocephaly, a disorder in which the back or one side of an infant’s head is flattened, and referred to STAR Cranial Center of Excellence which specializes in the treatment of infants with head shape abnormalities.

The center treats thousands of infants with a cranial remolding orthoses, a helmet similar to those used by bike riders, and offers cranial remolding treatment and clinical expertise.

Children across the United States have benefited from STARband cranial remolding orthoses and from the excellent care provided by the experts at STAR Cranial Centers. Photo: STAR Cranial Center of Excellence

“If a parent notices their child has an abnormal head shape, it’s important to address it as early as possible,” said Darren Poidevin, CPO, LPO, National Clinical Operations Manager at the STAR Cranial Center of Excellence in San Antonio. “Plagiocephaly is not simply a cosmetic issue. Cranial remolding helmets allow us to take an abnormal head shape and make it normal.”

Plagiocephaly has become increasingly common since the 1990’s when the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended infants sleep on their backs in an effort to prevent SIDS. It is estimated to affect as many as one in five infants, and can develop when a baby rests for prolonged periods in one position.

It can also result from cramped in-utero positioning, common in multiple births. Torticollis, a muscular condition causing the head to tilt toward one side and the chin to elevate and turn toward the opposite side, is another potential contributor.

“I look for signs of plagiocephaly and torticollis in newborns, because I know how important it is to diagnose as early as possible so that treatment can be started soon,” said Hagee. “I am definitely more sensitive to plagiocephaly after having my own child experience it and undergo treatment.”

San Antonio pediatrician Dr. Brooks Hagee is the mother to 20-month-old daughter Caroline who has plagiocephaly, or flattening of the head.  Photo: NPA

Following a referral from a pediatrician, neurosurgeon or other specialist, infants with plagiocephaly or related conditions are evaluated at the STAR Cranial Center of Excellence, where they are scanned with the STARscanner system. Scans are safe and take less than two seconds to complete. The STARscanner provides detailed head shape data that is helpful for the infant’s family, physician, and practitioner to review when determining the treatment needs and for documenting head shape changes before, during, and after treatment.

When plagiocephaly is considered mild, or if the infant is young enough, the practitioner may recommend several weeks of repositioning followed by a rescan to see if head shape improves without STARband treatment.

The STARband helmet is worn 23 hours per day for an average of three to six months in the treatment of plagiocephaly. Length of treatment is determined by infant’s age and severity of head shape and is most effective if started at four to six months of age. Some physicians believe lack of treatment for may lead to developmental delays, visual impairment and misaligned ears, eyes, and jaw.

“Helmets are such a beneficial, efficient, noninterventional treatment for plagiocephaly,” said Hagee. “As a pediatrician and a mother of a child who benefited from a helmet, I highly recommend this treatment. The STAR Cranial team is a professional, knowledgeable and very talented group.”


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