By mom Melissa Whittington
My daughter Emilia was diagnosed early on with torticollis and plagiocephaly. At about three months old, I could see her head was a little misshapen, and she always favored one side. Our pediatrician recommended us to physical therapy right away. We worked with them for about one month, and she regained full/equal range of motion—no more torticollis! However, her head shape had not improved. I was devastated, felt like I had failed. I started doing more research on helmet therapy for babies and was so overwhelmed! Our physical therapist recommended we take her to get evaluated soon, the sooner we started, the better. So many people (some professionals and some not) told me it would probably even out eventually, or her hair would cover it one day, but I knew I would feel so guilty later on if I hadn’t at least tried.
We went to Level 4 Orthotics and Prosthetics in Columbia, Maryland. The scan only took five seconds, and the staff was amazing at distracting Emilia! Insurance covered most of the cost. A few weeks later, her helmet was ready. The instructions were not nearly as bad as I thought they would be. After a few small adjustments (Emilia’s ears were offset) we were on our way home with our STARband. I thought the first few days were going to be terrible. I was so scared. Emilia forgot it was on after about 45 minutes. We were doing great. She did have a little trouble sleeping the first few nights but only because she was too hot (user error–took her out of her sleepsack and we were golden!). We followed up at the office about every couple of weeks to get readjusted. The staff was amazing, we were able to email or call with any questions, and they were so supportive. I also joined a Facebook support group, and it was amazing to see all the success stories from other families.
Then came new worries, what would people think? Would they think there was something wrong with her? And most importantly, no more bows?! People did ask, A LOT, more than I was expecting, but I had no problem explaining to them how her STARband was fixing her noggin. People were curious, but I also believe helmet therapy is becoming more common. Also, I found a lovely Etsy shop (Avery’s band bows) that made Velcro bows, especially for helmets. Nothing a bow can’t fix! After one week in the helmet, I could see a difference, ONE WEEK. At that moment, I knew it was all going to be worth it, and I made the right decision. My baby girl wouldn’t have to ever be self-conscious over her head. There was a light at the end of the tunnel. Every single week I noticed her head was getting better and better.
Emilia was in her helmet for three short months. It flew by so quickly. Her head looks amazing, and her ears are no longer offset. We would have never achieved this without her STARband. EVER. I have zero regrets about our decision to put her in a helmet. I would do it again and will do it again if any future children have similar issues. As usual, it was harder for me as a parent than it was for her. It became our new normal, and now we are done! Can’t thank Level 4 enough.