Plagiocephaly is a condition in which a child’s head is not shaped correctly. Plagiocephaly occurs when there is a flat spot on the back of the head on one side. Brachiocephaly is an overall flatness of the back of the head.

Associated Symptoms

Symptoms of plagiocephaly are; a flat area on the back or side of the head. The child’s forehead and cheek may bulge on one side, one eye may appear larger than the other, the ear on the flattened side may be pushed forward, and/or the jaw may be tilted.

Plagiocephaly is often caused by a condition of the neck called Torticollis, which is due to tight neck muscles that keep the child’s head turned to the same side, putting pressure on the same spot on the head causing a flat spot.

Brachiocephaly occurs when the head is flattened uniformly, causing the head to be disproportionately wider from side to side than it is from front to back. This can be caused by sleeping or spending too much time laying on the back.

Plagiocephaly and brachiocephaly can also by caused by early closure of the sutures in the skull.

Brief description of rehab evaluation

At the evaluation the therapist will review you and your medical history of pregnancy and delivery and discuss our current concerns. They will then screen your child for problems that can be associated with Torticollis; hips, vision, muscle tone.

The therapist will assess your child’s neck movement and strength, neck posture in sitting, lying down, on tummy, and supported standing. He will assess your child’s gross motor skills. The therapist will measure the degree of flatness of the head and screen for other diagnosis. If something other than positional plagiocephaly or brachiocephaly is suspected the therapist will refer your child to a craniofacial specialist.

Common rehab treatment interventions

The physical therapist will work directly with your child to stretch tight muscles and strengthen weak muscles. He will use play strategies that will help your baby to develop good vision and awareness of their body and improve motor skills. The therapist will teach the parent exercises to stretch the child’s muscles, strengthen muscles, development movement skills, increase time spent on the tummy and how to position your baby to help shape your baby’s head.

Positioning your child in recommended positions and performing the home exercises several times a day as directed by the therapist is critical for your child’s recovery.

A helmet may be recommended to help round out your baby’s head shape.

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