Big Baby Natalie’s Big Correction

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As a child, I had to wear a back brace for a little over 13 years! So you can imagine how I felt when we found out that our baby girl needed a STARband helmet. My mommy’s heart broke. Not only for her but also me, knowing how hard it was to be different when I was a child.

Natalie was a “Big Baby.” At our 32nd week’s ultrasound, she was already head down and ready to get out of my belly… but not for the next seven weeks. We believe her plagiocephaly was due to her position in the womb.

At five days old, Natalie had a chiropractic adjustment, and there was no concern regarding torticollis. Her neck muscles and range of motion were just fine. She kept getting adjusted every week; she always did so well and even enjoyed it.

We found out there was something to be concerned about a few weeks later during Natalie’s pediatric well visit. Before they mentioned it, we didn’t realize she had a flat spot. Having a newborn baby during the pandemic and just me and my husband at home, we did not know what to look for. I believe many parents don’t. This is why I documented our helmet journey by starting a blog www.firstandforeverphotography.com and created a YouTube Channel (First and Forever Photography).

Our nurse practitioner told us to reposition her to the other side of her head. So during the day, I sat on the floor and did as much tummy time as possible with her. I placed toys to her left so she would look in that direction. I had the playmat with toys hanging only on the left side. I had her lay on the changing table to look left (which was hard for me to get used to at first being right-handed). We held her a lot, and thankfully, she slept looking to the left at night. Unfortunately, all this repositioning did not lead to much success in our case.

We went to Kids Plastic Surgery to ensure that Natalie did not have craniosynostosis—which is the early fusion of the skull’s sutures. Thankfully, all was good there. Then we went to the Orthotic & Prosthetic Lab, Inc. in St. Louis to see the cranial orthotist, Tony Galli, and have a head scan. Natalie did so well in the STARscanner! Tony did a great job distracting her with a fun toy and noises. The scan took just a few seconds, and it showed 11.4 mm asymmetry, which put us in the moderate to severe category. Tony explained everything and answered all my questions with patience. He was very encouraging and made me feel more at ease about the whole process.

We decided to wait a little longer and keep repositioning her head since she was four months old at this time, and we had few weeks to decide. After the scan, I scheduled an appointment with the local craniosacral chiropractor – Dr. Andrew Dorough. We started seeing Dr. Dorough twice a week, and he spent half an hour working on Natalie’s head with a very gentle touch. Usually, the best results are achieved when chiropractic treatments are started early. By the time we got to him, Natalie was already four months old. Maybe it could have been fixed without a helmet, maybe not. I knew we tried everything, and I did not want to risk Natalie having issues with her head shape in the future.

After a lot of research, talking to other doctors and specialists, we decided to go with the STARband. We are so grateful to the Orthotic & Prosthetic Lab team for everything they did for our baby girl. They were always helpful and responded to our emails. I hope that sharing our story and the videos with Tony will help educate parents about the STARband. Everything seemed so scary, stressful, and intimidating at first. Then it was so easy and went by so fast. Even cleaning the helmet was super easy, and the smell was not as bad as everyone said. Natalie wore the STARband for only three months! Her CVA number went from 11.4 mm to 2.7 mm! She slept in it well, met all her milestones, and did not have any skin issues. She was not bothered by her STARband at all!

I only had good experiences with people asking about the helmet or complimenting how cute she looks and how they like the design. We loved having a personalized painting on her STARband done by the local artist. She made it look fun and more like a fashion accessory rather than medical equipment.

We are delighted we decided on the STARband and only needed one helmet due to easy adjustments to increase the size as she grew. Also, the helmet was so lightweight, and it fit her well. It did not go over her ears or eyes as some of the other helmets do. We are grateful for being seen by a very experienced cranial orthotist – Tony Galli, and his help during this process.

It was the best decision we could have ever made for our baby girl!

Graduation Day!

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