Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Why Our Son is Wearing a Helmet

Technically, it's NOT a helmet.  It just looks like a helmet.  

It's a cranial band called DOC Band.  It treats Plagiocephaly (pronounced play-jee-oh-sef-uh-lee) which is a fancy word for flat head syndrome.  

Alexander has a flat spot on the back of his head on the right.  

Alexander's head is on the right.  

The DOC Band weighs less than 6oz.  Since he's young, he should only have to wear it 6-9 weeks.  He wears it 23 hours a day.  

What causes this?  A lot of factors can cause flat spots.  Back sleeping often cases flat spots but they typically round out after time. My older son, Jayden, had a flat spot directly on the back of his from back sleeping but as he grew the flat spot got smaller. 

In Alexander's case, most likely his flat spot was from being breech.  He was breech until 38 weeks so he spent a good bit of time in my ribs.

Another likely cause is torticollis.  The term torticollis means twist neck.  In babies, its the tightening of neck muscles which makes the baby turn their head to one side, favoring a particular side, which a lot of times leads to having a flat spot on one side.  Alexander has discomfort turning his head to the left so he favors looking to the right which is why the flat spot is on the right.  

Torticollis can be caused by positioning in womb or a traumatic delivery.  I wouldn't say he had a traumatic delivery but he did come rather quickly after starting to push (less than 5 minutes) and the cord was wrapped around his neck.  He was also shifted from breech to head down position a week before delivery. Maybe his neck twisted a bit when he was turned around.  We don't have definite answers.  The important thing is treatment.  
Alexander goes to physical therapy once a week to help stretch his neck and work on his neck and trunk strength.  He's improving everyday and getting stronger.

Don't panic parents.  Most of the companies that make these bands provide a free evaluation and you must be intermediate to severe for them to recommend the band.  Alexander was in the severe category.  

This does not cause any brain damage.  Once this is corrected, he should not have any long term effects from it.  

In general, one thing that helps flat spots is tummy time. 
LOTS of it.  
Tips for Tummy Time: don't start with the baby flat on tummy on the floor.  That is the most difficult tummy time position.  Instead, try putting baby on a boppy pillow on the couch beside you (supervised of course).  This way your baby is eye level with you and can continue to look around at his familiar environment, including mommy and daddy's face.   

Also, using a mirror like this in front of baby encourages him to lift his head.

You can also do tummy time on an exercise ball.  There are a lot of youtube videos that show how to position baby on the exercise ball. 

-Nate and Dana Show