Posted by: Tricia | October 9, 2010

Under Construction

At about 2 1/2 months of age I noticed Jude’s head was starting to look rather flattened in the back.  He absolutely abhorred tummy time but we started doing our best to keep him upright and off the back of his head at all times except when he was sleeping.  At 4 months it didn’t seem to be getting much better so I mentioned it to the pediatrician at his check up.  He took a look and agreed that it was moderately misshapen and sent us home with a referral to Cranial Technologies in Dallas for further assessment.

I was hoping that they would say something like, “His head looks great!  It’ll round out on its own.  No worries!”  However, that isn’t what happened.  The therapist said that with everything we were doing to keep him off of his head as much as possible, the shape probably wouldn’t get any worse, but that it wouldn’t get any better either.  Basically, it took an external force to flatten his head, so it will take an external force to reshape it.  Just to clarify things even more,  I asked if his head would look just like it does now when he’s a grown man.  She answered, “Yes.  Just picture him with a bigger head and a lot more hair!”  Plagiocephaly isn’t just a cosmetic condition.  It can also lead to more serious problems such as vision impairments, jaw misalignment, and problems with walking.  They took some “before” pictures from all sides as well.  Here is the one that shows the flattening in the back the most.  Also, check out that point at the top!

It was definitely a difficult week for me as a mother.  After all, I am a NICU nurse!  How could I have let this happen to my baby?  What could I have done differently?  Should I have made him a tummy sleeper?  Is he not getting enough attention because he’s the second child?   The pediatrician, my NICU therapist friends, as well as some other friends whose babies had a band were so helpful to ease my mind about feeling guilty.  The bottom line is that apparently some babies’ heads are more malleable than others, and there really wasn’t anything more we could have done to prevent this from happening.

To make a long story short, we took about a week to make a decision about what to do.  After talking with my NICU therapist friends, as well as some other friends whose babies had a band, and looking around at other companies offering the same treatment with a different product, we came to the conclusion that Cranial Tech simply has the superior product with a quicker treatment time and better results.

The first step was to have a 3-D digital image taken of Jude’s head so that they could create a DOC band just for him!  They put a pantyhose stocking over his head in order to smooth down all of his hairs and get an even better picture of his true head shape.  Silly looking isn’t it?

This DSI thing was so cool!  They took a few pictures and chose the best one.  Once the image was done rendering the therapist let me look at it.  She spun his head round and round on the screen and showed me exactly where the band would be applying pressure and where it would leave space for the head to grow into it.

It took a week for them to make the band and then we went in for the first fitting.  Jude really didn’t seem to mind it at all.  We let him try it out for about 20 minutes to see if it left any red marks, which would indicate that the foam inside needed to be shaved down in those areas.

There were a few pink spots on his head and face so the therapist shaved the band down on those areas.  She also trimmed a good bit off above the eyes and went over a long list of care instructions.

This is what we left with…the most expensive hat anyone in our family will probably ever wear!

That afternoon we took at trip to Michael’s and picked out some stickers to make Jude’s new accessory a little bit less boring!  I was amazed at how intricate some parents decorate the bands!  There is an entire culture of DOC band “blingers”, including blogs, websites, and facebook pages!  Some people paint, others use Modge Podge, and there is even a place in Dallas who will wrap them for free!  Some of the bands I looked at were so cute!  Call me wishy-washy, but I just couldn’t decide on one thing to put on it.  I wanted something that we wouldn’t get tired of and that wouldn’t look crummy after a few days.  So, we decided that plain old stickers would work best for us.  They are easy to change out with a change in our mood, the season, and when they start to look worn.

The finished product…for now anyway.  Those are owls, in case you were wondering 🙂

So far Jude doesn’t really seem to mind the band at all.  He had a little trouble going to sleep the first night, but other than that he’s been his normal happy self.

He will wear the band for 6-10 weeks, depending on how well he responds to the treatment.  Babies as young as he is tend to wear it for less time than older babies because they are growing so rapidly.  He’ll wear it for 23 hours a day.  During the hour that the band is off he gets a bath and the band gets wiped down with alcohol.  Since he will be getting a lot more baths in the next few weeks I went ahead and purchased this bath seat I’ve had my eye on so that the boys can take baths together now.  I love it!

We can remove it a few times a day to towel dry his head and the band if he gets sweaty.  We make the drive to Dallas once a week to meet with the therapist and have the band adjusted.  They measure his head and shave down the foam inside the band depending on what areas need the most room to grow.  The therapist said that we will start to see improvements after one week of wearing the band.

Here are some pictures I took of Jude’s head the day before he got the band.  I plan on taking a set each week so that we can watch his progress.

Until then, think round thoughts, everybody!

 


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Responses

  1. I love the way you decorated the band – so cute! I totally understand the guilt surrounding plagiocephaly, having gone through it myself with Evangeline. Even though we saw the top pediatric neurologist in the country, I still wonder if we did the right thing (not getting the DOC band at his recommendation), as she still has cosmetic symptoms now at almost 4 yrs old: uneven ear alignment which causes head bands and sunglasses to not fit perfectly, and she still has a flat spot on one side of the back of her head. Since she is a girl she can always have long hair, which helps, and, of course, no one can see the symptoms except me; I don’t think most people even guess there is anything misshapen about her head. But, I STILL feel guilty about this happening to her, even though our pediatrician said the torticollis that led to the plagiocephaly probably started in utero! Oh well, just one of the many struggles of mothering that we just have to take to Jesus and let him heal and handle.
    I pray for complete healing for Jude’s cute little (soon to be round!) head.

  2. You guys did a really good job on the band. I pray his little head shapes right up 🙂


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