Flat Head Syndrome

Plagiocephaly and Brachycephaly

Shaping comfort and cradling potential;
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In the symphony of early development, the shape of your baby’s head can change surprisingly quickly. You may notice a flat area developing on the back of the head. This is a relatively common occurrence during the first 6 months, and results from prolonged pressure on one part of the infant’s soft skull, leading to an asymmetric head shape. Parents should be aware of repositioning their child as soon as it’s evident to help reshape that asymmetry. If home exercises are not enough then you may seek assistance from a healthcare professional such as Cotlew St. Osteopathy, for physical therapy and a personalised approach.

What is Plagiocephaly?

Plagiocephaly refers to flattening of one side of the head. As a parent you may also notice the babies head shape is askew when viewed from above, the ears may be misaligned, there may be a head tilt involved and asymmetry of the face. There are a few different assessment tools to assess severity as it can range from mild to severe. These tools will make up part of the assessment process and influence the individualized treatment plan that Victoria provides.

You may ask, how did this happen? Well, babies’ heads are soft when they are born. They are very sensitive to external forces, even gentle ones. If there is prolonged pressure applied to the head, it will slowly mold it. This includes sleeping in the same position every night.

Some of the risk factors to Plagiocephaly can include prematurity, intrauterine positioning such as breech and constraints in space within the uterus, assisted delivery such as forceps, torticollis (Congenital Muscular Torticollis), first born child and maternal age older than 35 years.

What is Brachycephaly?

Brachycephaly refers to the complete flattening of the back of the head, resulting in a widening appearance. It is usually a result of sleeping in a prolonged position flat on the back. Treatment for brachycephaly is like plagiocephaly.

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What can I do to help?

The great thing is with mild plagiocephaly particularly under the age of 4 months, early intervention can help treat it. Simple at home exercises such as supervised tummy time, repositioning onto the non-flat side, holding baby, and not using car seats or carriers excessively have all been shown to help improve abnormal head shapes. If after a month or so you are not seeing results or you think it may be a more moderate to severe case, then you may seek a professional assessment combined with physical therapy such as with Victoria at Cotlew St. Osteopathy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Osteopathic assessment and treatment can begin from as early as a few weeks old. The general rule is the earlier the intervention the better. The window for change and treatment is generally within the first 12 months of age. However, research has shown if physical therapy and home exercises of repositioning starts around 7 weeks of age, the change is the greatest and the quickest.

Helmet therapy is only reserved for severe cases of plagiocephaly that is not responding to exercises and manual therapy. A full assessment and appropriate referral to an orthotist happens with your health care professional in this instance. The ideal time frame for starting to wear a helmet is around 4-6 months of age. The length of time that the helmet is worn, is individualized depending on severity.

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Understanding plagiocephaly and brachycephaly is crucial for parents seeking the best care for their infants.

At Cotlew St. Osteopathy we offer guidance and treatment to address head shape concerns and promote optimal development.

Unlock the potential for a more rounded head with Cotlew St. Osteopathy. Schedule a consultation now and embark on the path to balanced growth for your child.