Torticollis

Emilia's Success Story

By mom Melissa Whittington

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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.

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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.

Level 4 Orthotics & Prosthetics,
now rebranded as RESTORE POC™

Restore POC
6760 Alexander Bell Drive Suite 150
Columbia , MD , 21046 United States
(410) 290-0772
healthcare, pediatrics, cranial remolding helmets, plagiocephaly, brachycephaly, scaphocephaly

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Emilia's graduation day!

Emilia's graduation day!

Bradley's Journey

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! It 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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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.