Damien had a condition called torticollis, in which a tightened muscle in his neck caused him to always look in one direction as an infant, resulting in an asymmetrical flat spot from where his head laid. We took Damien to physical therapy for several months as an infant in order to loosen that muscle and strengthen the muscle on the opposite side of his neck. Today, we believe the therapy helped Damien, and his head shape appears to be normal.
Blaise also started to get a flat spot early on, but his was right on the back of his head (no torticollis). Andy and I did the exercises we learned with Damien to strengthen the muscles on the back of his neck and took him to therapy, where we were told we were doing everything right, and there were no new exercises to learn. They gave us an overwhelming amount of material about DOC bands, and told us that Blaise may or may not benefit from one, since his plagiocephaly is so minor. This was a very difficult decision as parents, as of course, we want to do whatever is best for our son. When weighing the options, we learned that the "bands" (probably more appropriately referred to as helmets), must be worn 23 hours a day for several months. The bands are apparently not at all painful or uncomfortable to the child (although they certainly appear hot), but the process of getting the head mold for the band shape and size can be rather traumatic and/or scary to the child (they have to pretty much put a nylon over the baby's head and use some sort of material to get a mold to send to the company). In addition, plagiocephaly isn't considered to affect children medically besides the cosmetic aspect (there is differing research about this), so insurance doesn't at all cover the bands, which cost around $3000 to $4000. Research is also just starting to be done on the long-term affects of DOC bands, since plagiocephaly was so rare until the early 90s. So, with this knowledge, and the fact that the therapists couldn't guarantee that we'd see a difference in Blaise, we decided not to pursue a band.
The thing that brought thinking about this to the forefront is the fact that we gave the boys haircuts last night. They now have "military style" buzz cuts, which of course, gives us an excellent opportunity to see the boys' head shapes. Damien's head looks good, but our little Blaise does have a noticeable flat spot. I guess it makes me wonder if we made the right decision. I feel so bad about it, and somewhat blame myself, but I know Andy and I made the best decision we could at the time, and we'll never know if the DOC band would have made a difference. When Blaise's hair is longer, it is not very visible, but he may not always be able to have longer hair. I'm also not sure if his current head shape is permanent yet at 19 months, but I'm guessing it is.
We recently learned about a product called the Noggin Nest (made by Boppy) while I was browsing through Craigslist. Although the company itself does not promote the product to reduce flat head syndrome, we learned, through reading reviews on Amazon.com, that many people have had success correcting and preventing flat spots by using the product. Several also stated that their physical therapists recommended them. Andy and I knew we had nothing to lose, so we bought one for Mary. She has been using it pretty much since birth, and so far no flat spot. We're not saying that it can't still happen, but we are so far pleased with the result, and wish we would have known about the product for Damien and Blaise. So, there's my little plug! We're really hoping this solves the problem that we have spent so much time worrying about, and I hope this product can help other families as well.
|Mary, using her Noggin Nest, in February.|