Bradley's Journey

Bradley’s STARband success story
by mom Mallory Williams

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The fall of 2017 will remain in my heart forever! After struggling for years to become parents, we were finally able to adopt our sons through foster care and found out we were pregnant through IVF. We were so grateful for our forming family when we found out I was expecting, not only one baby but THREE! Triplets, how exciting? My pregnancy was smooth, aside from the discomfort of carrying three babies. We made it to our scheduled c-section and welcomed our beautiful daughters Avery, Emery, and Bradley!

People noticed Bradley’s flat head pretty early on. As her mama, I was very sensitive about it. I would brush it off but, at our first evaluation with Early Intervention, they diagnosed Bradley with torticollis. They educated me about what it was and how we can treat it. We started physical therapy, and my goal quickly became to avoid getting a helmet. I hated everything about helmets. I know what I thought when I looked at babies in helmets, and I couldn’t stand the thought of what people would think of mine. It was difficult doing the physical therapy exercises, but we powered through. We saw some improvement. She was three months old when we had an appointment with The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s plastic surgery department. We met with Regina Fenton, CRNP. She was real with me and said that Bradley’s head was severe and she expected us to qualify for a helmet. Since Bradley was too little, she asked us to come back when she turned six months old. She suggested bringing my other daughters in as well to get a quick measurement. It’s common in multiples to need helmets. Since the babies don’t have extra room when they are developing in utero!

We continued with PT and all our exercises. During our six month appointment with the plastic surgeon, Bradley and Avery were referred to Union Orthotics and Prosthetics Co. I was stressed out thinking about having TWO babies in helmets. Our insurance would not cover the helmet, so we had to apply for extra funding. The process took a few weeks, and we scheduled our evaluation at Union. We met with Sarah W. Katchpole, CO, MSPO our first visit. Avery and Bradley had to get funky hats on their head so they could take accurate measurements. Thankfully Avery scored a 4 and did not qualify for a helmet. Bradley scored a 10.1, so we placed an order for her helmet. Then we waited for it to come in!

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December 15th, 2018, was day one. My husband and I took Bradley to pick up her helmet. We decided on a clear one because we heard it was the easiest to clean. It was harder to decorate, but with five kids, whatever was easier! I contacted Babbleworthy and Avery’s Bows to help me make her helmet fun. It was affordable and easy for this crazy momma to do! The first few days were difficult. Bradley had a mild teething fever, and of course, we were going on a trip to an indoor water park as an early Christmas present from my in-laws. It didn’t take long for her to adjust to the new helmet. Soon it became second nature to us. It was hard for me not to be able to kiss her head, and I enjoyed taking it off after dinner. The nightly baths were nice one-on-one time for us. We bought a spray bottle and filled it with rubbing alcohol. We would spray it down then wipe clean. Even with all the decals, it stayed pretty clean. I enjoyed going for check in’s for Bradley’s helmet. I loved seeing the process!

At two months, I was getting a little fed up with it. Bradley was getting bigger, and the helmet was starting to annoy her. We met with Tori Andrews, Certified Prosthetist Orthotist, for one of our last check-ins. She was pretty impressed with her improvement and informed me that we could choose to graduate. As wonderful as that sounded, I wanted to complete! We agreed to give it two more weeks and discharge. The last two weeks felt like it took forever, but we made it. Bradley’s final scan measured her at 2.0. I was in shock! We are very proud of Brad and excited to move forward! We are very thankful for the support from Union Orthotics and Prosthetics Co. in Canonsburg as well as The Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh! I felt like an eternity while we were going through it, but now that it’s over, I realize it was only a short period of our lives.

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A Normal Life Baby

Baby J’s STARband success story
by mom Christine Rokos

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In the first few weeks of my son’s life, we realized that he had a strong preference turning his head to one particular side. No matter what I would do, every time I laid him down in his bassinet, he would shift his head to the right side. I started seeing the preference in the car seat carrier, in the swing, and even when he was laying on the ground playing on his mat. I would gently nudge his head to the other side, but he would always go back to his preferred side. Honestly, I didn’t think anything of it at the time.

When my son was two months old, I started noticing that the back-right side of his head was flattening out because of his preference to lean to one side (torticollis). So during the two-month wellness checkup, I brought it up to our pediatrician. She assured me that lots of babies get flat spots, and it will correct itself out by nine months. 

By four months old, the flat spot wasn’t getting any better and in many ways, it had gotten much worse. We were then referred to a neurosurgeon who officially diagnosed our son with plagiocephaly or “flat head syndrome” and suggested that we have an evaluation at a cranial clinic. I had no idea what to expect when we arrived at the Hanger clinic in Peoria, Illinois, but Rachel the Orthosis was so helpful in making our son feel comfortable while they got a super quick scan of his head shape.

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“I would highly recommend
the STARband to any family out there who may be going through the same thing that our family went through. My son’s head has shaped out beautifully,
and our journey was quick!”

— Christine Rokos

All of the measurements and discussion lead us down the path to deciding to place our son in a cranial STARband helmet, and I can honestly say that it was the best decision we could have made. I could rest easy knowing that the helmet would correct the flat spot vs. the wait and see approach. If my child’s head never rounded out on its own, then what?

The helmet did not seem to bother our son at all. I was worried that he wouldn’t adjust during overnight sleep, but the first night he actually slept the longest he ever had. The STARband helmet was also much lighter than I had imagined. Furthermore, it was also so much easier to pull on and off that I had anticipated.

During our helmet journey, our little guy was growing, which meant his head was growing, and therefore we had to have adjustments made on the helmet. The staff at our clinic was absolutely wonderful in making same-day adjustments and talking us through any questions we had. They estimated my son would be in a helmet for 3-4 months, but because of our proactiveness, and the expertise the orthotists had with the STARband, he only had to be in the helmet for 2 months! 

I wrote an article 12 things to remember when baby is in a helmet. To help ease any fears, you may have while your child is in the helmet; and get a better idea what to expect. The time in the helmet goes much, much quicker than you would imagine.

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Griffin's Story

Griffin’s STARband success story
by mom Megan Noseworthy

Griffin was born nearly 2 months premature with more hair than your typical 3 year old. She was born with very little complication and was able to come home from the hospital very soon! She ate, she slept and was an all around wonderful baby! At her month 3 immunizations, our nurse alerted us to what she described as a flat spot! We had never heard of this and were really unconcerned at that time. It wasn’t until a follow up appointment that our eyes were opened to an obvious malformation of her head. Perhaps we were blinded by baby bliss or maybe it really was her hair that was able to mask the issue.

We began therapy right away and the next few months were a constant barrage of physio appointments, at home repositioning, purchases of head pillows and tortle hats and the list goes on. It became a part of our everyday to try and ensure pressure to the opposite side of her head.

Each appointment would come and go and her measurements would gradually become worse despite our best efforts. It was at this moment that panic and fear set in as a parent.

At what would be one of our final physiotherapy appointments, the topic of a cranial band was discussed. It was a no brainer for us, if there was something that could potentially correct this, we were all for it!

From that moment on things went quickly. Tests, casting, fittings and boom—a helmet!

We were warned by our physician that the first days would not be pleasant and that it would take some time to get to the 23 hours of wear per day, but luckily for us she was a complete trooper and didn’t seem phased by her new headwear!

Move forward 6 months and Griffins head shape was more perfect than I could have ever imagined and we have STARband to thank for this!

STARband has been one of the best things we could have ever done for our daughter! For any parent considering this as a method, just do it! You will not regret it!

—Megan Noseworthy

 
 
 

Tummy Time

One of the best ways to help prevent your child from developing an abnormal head shape is by introducing Tummy Time activities into their daily routine. This can start from the very first day you bring your child home from the hospital!  Tummy Time is an important aspect of an infant’s development process, and the first 3 to 4 months can be especially helpful in developing the strength and coordination that is necessary for future rolling and crawling abilities.  Here are five activities that you can try with your child to make Tummy Time a regular part of your daily care and bonding experiences!

Number One: Positioning your baby on your chest. By reclining or lying down with your baby and positioning him on your chest, your child can begin to develop the strength and movements that lead to head control, pushing up from the floor, trunk control, sitting and eventually crawling and rolling. Lift your child’s head up once in a while as it encourages your child to look at you while playing.  Turn the head to the right and left occasionally as this will also help to improve the range of motion of the neck and reduce the baby’s preferred head positioning.

Number Two: Playing. Speaking of playing, spending some time on your tummy with your child can be fun and extremely beneficial! Place some toys near your child so they can practice reaching, propping, and improving their hand-eye coordination.  This type of tummy time activity should always be supervised, so you might as well join in the fun!

Number Three: Carry your baby facing away from you. This vertical aspect of Tummy Time can also help improve the strength of your baby’s neck and trunk muscles. Be sure to support your child by their head and chest so that they are encouraged to look around and visually explore their surroundings. Make your child feel like superman while you are still holding them close to you!

Number Four: Diaper changing. Instead of changing your child’s diaper in a static position on their back, consider rolling them side to side as you fasten each diaper tab. This is a great way to help transition your baby from being on his back all the time and to spending some time on his side and tummy while mom and dad are close by.  Another idea is to alternate placing your child’s head to the right and left sides of the changing table.  This will encourage your child to turn their head in different directions to look at you.  Again, adding a few minutes of playtime with a toy, funny faces or funny noises is a great way to balance the stretching and strengthening of the neck muscles.


And Number Five: Music! Tummy time is a great time to bond with your child. Consider playing some quiet, soothing music during playtime with your child on his stomach. Or, maybe your child likes to mix it up with something a little more upbeat!  It all works and is a fun way to help your child learn to move around.  A small roll or towel under the chest can be used to better support your child and also encourage them to look up and all around their play space.  Don’t forget to both have fun!

Tummy time is an incredibly beneficial aspect of your child’s life, and can help to prevent plagiocephaly from developing.  However, if you notice a flattened area on your child’s head developing or not getting better, consider talking with your doctor or an orthotist about an evaluation for a STARband.