31 answers

My 6 Month Old Needs a Helmet!

I don't have any background on helmets (or bands) & need a little help. We just went last week for Wyatt's 6 month well visit & the ped referred us to Cranial Tech for a consultation. Does anyone out there have experience with this company...or others that offer the same service? I don't know how bad my son's head is, we will find out next week at the consultation. Insurance doesn't pay for any of it & it is very expensive! I've done some research on plagio over the last couple of days, but I would LOVE to hear from some moms who have any info on this. Anyone who has gotten a band or helmet...or anyone who decided against it. Thanks Moms!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Wow!! Thank you all so much for taking the time to read & respond to my request! You all have no idea how much help you all have been! We had our consultation yesterday with Cranial Tech...and Wyatt has moderate plagiocephaly and is a great canidate for helmet/band therapy. We also have a consultation with Hanger on Monday to see what they have to say & how much they would be.
After spending an hour on the phone with insurance before I wrote this request (and getting two different answers), they sent me a copy of the requirements needed in order to qualify for benefits. From my understanding, we should be able to get a portion covered (yea!!!). As I see it, any has got to be better than none!
I've checked out a couple of forums on plagio & know that it is the best thing for Wyatt. I didn't realize how much asymetry there was until I saw the all angle pictures! I was thinking that it would be a mild case at best...guess I was wrong! So anyway, look for us around town soon! Thanks again. You guys were a true lifesaver!

Featured Answers

Hi J.
We were sent to Cranial Tech when my son was 4 months old. They did a consultation and gave us a bunch of things to try (ways to get him to reposition his head) and we went back 3 months later. The things we did ended up being enough and we didn't need the band. So don't panic just yet, going there doesn't automatically mean a helmet.
good luck!

Please get it. My nephew needed one and his Mother ignored the situation. She kept making him wear hats and such. Now he is 6 years old and his head is flat on one side. It looks like someone hit him on the side of his head with a frying pan. He is still a handsome doll, but flat heat! Get the helmet and be happy we live in a world where these things are readily available.

Hi... I don't have a lot of experience but my neice had to wear a helmet for a while. I think she was around 1 year old... I can't remember. She had a protruding forhead. My SIL was told that a helmet was best and best chance of correcting itself earlier rather than later. It took a while for my neice to adjust but my SIL and my MIL made it a little more fun for her in that they dressed it up with stickers/etc so she felt a little better about it. Good luck.

More Answers

I declined doing the helmet treatment on my son because there was nothing else wrong with him other than a flat spot on the back of his head, so to me and my husband it seemed more cosmetic than anything. Not to be mean or shallow but often in society we seem to be obsessed with obtaining perfection and who has a prefectly shaped head anyway? We truly felt there are not enough studies to support or discredit the helmet treatment, no one know what will happen to the child if left untreated or what impact that helmet will have pushing on your childs skull (brain) 23 hours a day for months, other than to change the shape of their head. With massaging his head, repositioning and him getting older and turning when sleeping his head started to round out on it own. My son is now three, he head is not perfect,he's still is a little flat on one side of his head, but it is not very noticeable. In fact no one, including his ped, has said a word about the shape of his head since I declined treatment with the specialist, thus my thought is it couldn't be all that bad. You have to do what you and your family think is right for your child with all medical issues uncovered and discussed. I don't regret my decision of declining the treatment.

1 mom found this helpful

My son who is 11 months old had plagio & torticollis at 2-3 months old. My pediatrician also suggested I see a specialist. I chose not to. Instead, my chiropractor showed me some stretches do to several times a day for the torticollis as well as just massage his scalp. (Stretches can also be found online) I also had my cousin's mother in law who happens to be a pediatric physical therapist come over & check him out. She said he wasn't that bad - just to make sure he gets lots of tummy time & continue with the stretches. I also bought a noggin nest (a head rest with a hole cut out in back so his head doesn't lay flat) for his car seat.

Between doing all of these things, it all went away. So, if it's an option for you, you may want to try it first. Good luck to you.

Hi J.!
Our son ended up having to wear a helmet (doc band) for a few months. We went through Cranial Technologies as well. At first we were told that it would not be covered by our insurance, but after checking into it more (and with the help of the people at CT) a percentage was covered (can't remember how much). In the end we wound up getting a check back for the amount we overpaid.

Oh, and by the way . . . everyone at Cranial Technologies was great. They were always willing to answer any questions we had, and they were very patient with our son. They did a good job with everything, and Justin's head turned out fine. You can't tell he ever had a problem.

Let me know if you have any questions.
Good Luck!
L.

If your son needs a helmet it is possible he would qualify for Early Intervention services, which would cover most of it. the only thing is the he would need to be evaluated by them, etc.. so contact them ASAP!! basically if they determine that your child has developmental needs (which the helmet could fall under) you would receive a variety of services and pay a flat fee based on your income. My daughter has orthotics that we got from Sheck & Siress in Bannockburn (south of lake forest) and I think they do helmets as well.

http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=30321

Hi J.!I'm a pediatric occupational therapist whose seen a lot of kids in our clinic who have to wear a DOC band. I'd encourage you to follow the therapists' recommendations. Not only are there the more obvious, physical effects of not correcting a plagiocephaly, but there are more serious problems that could result down the road. Some things I've seen are vision issues and speech/language issues due to jaw problems. It's better to fix a problem now while your son is young. Plus, you can ONLY fix it up to a certain age. Good luck!

I just wanted to let you know that my daughter had the helmet, we went to cranial technologies and they did a great job with us.They were very understanding and caring throught the whole process and the helmet really worked for us. She had severe diformaties with her head that the helmet was able to fix. The price was a little high but there was a flat cost that covered everything so that was nice that I knew up front what it all was going to cost. If you appeal to your insurance they will sometimes pay for the helmet or part of the helmet because they can be considered non cosmetic. If you would like any more info just let me know.

Just wondered if you have tried contacting your insurance companies to see if they have any companies that are covered or offer a discount. Doctors are usually just used to referring patients to one particular place but I would definitely check with insurance first. Good luck.

Hi... I don't have a lot of experience but my neice had to wear a helmet for a while. I think she was around 1 year old... I can't remember. She had a protruding forhead. My SIL was told that a helmet was best and best chance of correcting itself earlier rather than later. It took a while for my neice to adjust but my SIL and my MIL made it a little more fun for her in that they dressed it up with stickers/etc so she felt a little better about it. Good luck.

I totally remember how scared I was when Chase needed his helmet. I was on a zillion websites about plagio and got some very reassuring advice from other moms! Hopefully, we can help you as well...

Chase has congenital torticollis and thus due to the severe head tilt only slept on the left side. Needless to say, he developed plagio and needed a helmet. I cried the entire night before he got it because I was convinced people would pity my poor little boy. How wrong I was!

He's a Children's Memorial kid, but due to insurance (we have HMO), we couldn't go through them for the helmet. We did get to use Dr. Frank Vicari (he's the best there is and so wonderful with kids). We had Chase's helmets (two of them, as he got too tall for his 1st one) done at Sheck and Siress on Clark Street in Chicago. We were totally please with Dreher Jouett and his staff. And we ended up loving the helmets!

Chase adapted easily and wore them for 8 months (it was supposed to be 4 months, but he had a "painfully slow growing head" and only grew 10mm in a 6 month period). He learned to crawl & walk in it, so we were actually sorry to see it go. He had become quite fearless and was almost a year and a half before he had a bump on his head.

Insurance covered all of it for our STARbands (these are terrific). My pediatrician wrote some letters for us stating that he NEEDED that particular brand. It took almost two months for insurance to kick in, but we saved $4000+.

I know some people feel it's only for cosmetic reasons. Chase (and others) developed facial assymetry due to the positioning of the flatness. He's currently having issues with his left eye (not a surprise since the tort and plagio were on the left side) and will be fitted for glasses next month. If you look back at pre-helmet photos, you can truly see a difference in the shape of his eyes.

We also made the helmet a fun experience. I added his name to it and decorated it with stickers that I changed monthly (or for holidays). People were amazing! I honestly believe that since his name was so prominent, people were more apt to speak to us in stores. He became quite the fashion plate. When a new family came to our church with a child in a helmet, my pastor stopped me after mass and inquired if I had seen the baby with a "Chase hat."

I'm sorry to be so wordy, but I know I was so terrified of the experience at the beginning. I'm now a furm believer that it's better to take care of these things when they're really too young to remember it than to have some major issues later on in life.

Good luck!! Let me know if you need anymore info - I have tons!

Is this the place in Oak Brook? If it is, I went there for my son. He is now 3yrs and it definitely helped!!! I went a different route with the helmet. I tried a place covered by insurance, wouldn't go the same route if I had to do it over again. It was one of those places that does prostetics(sp?), I think it was Fitzsimons. They don't specialize in it and I really don't think it was the best choice looking back. The place in Oak Brook does nothing but this, so it's done correctly. Not too mention you can decorate the helmet, ex for a boy make it your favorite football helmet. The helmet really made a big difference. Hope this helps.

J.,

It looks like you have gotten lots of answers already but I wanted to share some insight. I am a pediatric PT working in Early Intervention.

* Regarding what a previous poster said. Early Intervention will not cover helmets/doc bands. There is alot of equipment that they do cover but because the bands are more medical than developmental it isn't something that's included.

* I would agree with what some posters said about also consulting a neurosurgeon in conjunction with Cranial Tech. It will help you if you wish to appeal with your insurance company to have his/her backing.

* Which brings me to insurance. Even though your insurance company says they don't cover the band/helmet you can file an appeal with them. I just wrote a letter for a client to United Health Care. If you would like some help with that I would be happy to help you.

* Your evaluation at Cranial Tech is free. Please go and see what they have to say. In my experience they are not in the business of recommending helmets if they are not necessary. Your son is at a critical age for the helmet to be successful and perhaps only needing one rather than two. If you wait too long it becomes uncorrectable.

Hope this all helps!

J.

Why does your son need a helmet? Is it because the pediatrician thinks his head is too big? I have a 1 year old son Lucas and we went through the same thing. Starting from Lucas' 4 month check up, the pediatrician was concerned with this head circumference which was in the 90th precentile for months. She wanted us to see a specialist so he could wear a helmet, I refused. I pulled some of my husbands's family pictures and noticed that one on his cousins had an abnormally large head as a baby and outgrew it. I then started to wake up every night to switch his head to different position.I wanted him to sleep on each side evenly. The pediatrician still insisted on the specialist, she was concerned about fluid in his head. We asked for an ultrasound first. It was normal. And Lucas's head is in the 60th percentile now. Did your son have an ultrasound?
I hope this helps.
M. W

Look up Ameriplan. It is not insurance, but a discount plan. We have it for dental and medical. Perhaps they can assist you.

Hi J.,

Our son goes to Cranial Technologies and wears the Doc band. He was 4 months old when he got it, and will have had to have worn it for three months total when it is finished. I am really glad we made the decision to do this. His head wasn't that bad either, but I can tell a big difference with the shape of his head. They make a mold of their head, so you can see the weekly or bi-weekly changes. I thought that we were making the best decision for him. Also, I do love the band because when he falls backwards, he doesn't feel it, it is also nice for safety :) I hope that helped. Good luck with everything. Just remember, it is short term, your son will never remember having to wear it, and you are doing what is medically best for him.....

J.

Hi J.,

I know how stressed out you are because we went through the helmet saga with our daughter.

First of all, our experience with Cranial Tech was top notch! They are all fabulous! The office staff and all the therapists remembered my daughter's name and were so attentive to detail. They helped us so much with information, working with our insurance and rejoiced in every millimeter of correction we achieved. We were serviced out of the Charlotte, NC office b/c of where we were living last year.

My daughter wore her band for 3.5 months and achieved borderline perfect symmetry and 11mm in length. She got her helmet at 7 months. I wish we'd gone in sooner b/c we could have achieved more correction. The sooner they get the band, the sooner and quicker correction can begin. Also, the less likely you are to need a second helmet-which is what happens when kids get into them late and their growth has slowed down. But I am happy with how her head looks. We were lucky in that her case was purely cosmetic.

Despite our efforts, documentation and a letter from our pediatrician, our insurance did not pay one penny. Last March when we received our helmet, the total cost of band and all visits was $3000. We put it all on our credit card up front and were given a discount, so we actually paid $2700. They also have financing options if you want to stagger payments.

You are fortunate to have a pediatrician who is in tune with this issue. Our pediatrician kept telling us that my daughter's head would be fine, just leave it alone. But I'm not crazy and her head shape was not improving despite my best repositioning efforts. I actually referred myself to Cranial Tech b/c I needed another opinion.

We made the decision to go through with the band treatment b/c we simply didn't want our daughter to ever wonder why her head was a different shape than her friends. We also visited a cranio-facial surgeon (completely independent of Cranial Tech)to get his opinion. He basically said, "She's fine and beautiful and no one will ever know if she keeps her hair long. But, it she were my daughter, I'd do it b/c she will know her head is different and it might bother her if she wants to wear her hair in a short style".

That may seem shallow, but it's honest. It's not her fault that her head is a different shape and as a parent, I want to do my best for her to feel secure and confident. Besides, it's fixable! I figure if this is the worst we have to deal with, we're doing great.

Wearing the band during the warmer months like we did is not the easiest, but Cranial Tech is great for instructions and tips on how to best manage the cleaning and care.

I hope this has helped you. Like I said above, Cranial Tech was awesome and I highly recommend them. We achieved wonderful results and I must say, I followed every directive they gave me. When they said to wear the helmet so many hours a day, we did it.

Good luck with your decision.

We also went to Cranial Tech - my daughter (now 4) only had to wear the helmet (DOC band) a few months and we had no problems with her not wanting to wear it. The staff there were great and it really made a big difference. We also appealed the insurance after they denied coverage, and they ended up paying for it! You can try doing other things (positioning, stretching, etc etc) first, but keep in mind that babies' heads grow quickly for a while (especially in the first year) and then grow slowly, so you don't have a huge window of opportunity. We stopped using the DOC band because my daughter grew out of it, and the staff at Cranial Tech said we would only get minimal results out of a second band. Her head shape hasn't changed since then (it's still a little misshapen). In her case I knew we had to do get a DOC band because even with all the positioning I tried, she continued to sleep on the right side of her head. Even today, when I peek in on her sleeping, her head is always turned to the right. Good luck!

Hi there.
My boy, Dylan, had to have a helmet. We were referred to Cranial Tech also. My husband has awesome insurance, (i am at home) and they gave us the run-a-round. Insurance did not want to pay for it, and tried to make it hard for us. but we stuck with it, and they finally paid. but the ins. co. told us to go to Hanger. We live in Gurnee, and hanger is in gurnee. so it was great. they were awesome. i would much rather you go to hanger than cranial, but it all depends on your ins.
my ped made us aware of dylans head at 2 months old. we did not get the helmet until 6 months. it was very frustrating, but i really wanted to do it, where my husband was on the fence. i am glad that we followed thru. because i did not want to feel like shoulda, coulda, woulda. also, you need to do it NOW or forever hold your peace. we were told that your head forms by 2 years old, and it will be that way the rest of your life. when dylan had the helmet on when we were out and about, we were surprised at how many others went through this. it was comforting. at first i was uneasy going out, but then i knew he was normal, and that is what counts. it was fun to decorate the helmet. his cousins had a blast picking out stickers to put on it. my whole family thought he was CUTER with the helmet on! so you get used to it. depending on how bad Wyatt's head is, depends on how long he will have to where the helmet. Cranial told us that he would have to wear the helmet 23 hours a day. where as hanger told us to wear it as often as we could.
i hope i helped you. i tried to cover a lot of conversations in a short paragraph. if not, PLEASE let me know. i will be more than happy to help.
L. S.

When my son was about 6-7 months old I questioned my pediatrician about my sons soft spot. My Dr assured me that it was fine, but after doing some research and the way my sons head was shaped, I knew as a mother something was wrong. My Dr sent me to a Neurosurgeon and he had a CT scan done, and sure enough his soft spot had closed too early, causing his head to grow front to back and it was flatter on the sides. At 9 months old my son had surgery on his head. He had to have bone removed on the top of his head to make a "new" soft spot, leaving a big "S" shaped scar going from the top of his head all the way to the back. Prior to his surgery, I not only saw an awesome pediatric Neurosurgeon, but also a cranialfacial pediactric doctor from Childrens Memorial Hosptial. My son had to be fitted for a helmet, but fortunately the surgery went well and he didn't need one afterwards. If you would like the names of the doctors I saw I would be more than happy to given them to you. The surgery was done at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL (and my doctor was truely the best) and the other doctor who performed the surgery was out of Children's Memorial Hospital. I'm not sure if this helps you at all. I know it is a scary thing and as a mother you don't want anything wrong with your children. I was a little worried about my son having to wear a helmet, but they have all different kinds of colors and fun designs and you can even write on them to personalize them.

My now almost 6 yr. old daughter wore a helmet beginning at age 1. She had a protruding forehead, one eye smaller than the other, ears were very misaligned.

After just a week in the helmet, her forehead showed an improvement.

We went to Ballert Orthopedics. Our insurance did not cover the expense, I lost my appeal also. When I called them to settle the bill, she looked it up and my insurance did have a "preferred provider discount" listed, we oved them $500, and had made a few payments, in all it was about $1500, not the "up to $3000" they originally said.

I can still see her flat spot when her hair is wet, her ears are better though sunglasses do not always fit her right. I can tell one eye is still a bit smaller, although if I mention it to others they don't see it.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you they were very good at Ballert, he even made a light pink helmet, we decorated it with stickers. If you do get a helmet, and decorate, get some Goo Gone to remove the sticky residue from the stickers.

Let me know if you have other questions, I'd be happy to answer them if I cna. Also, on the Yahoo groups they have a plagiocephaly board and an older plagiocephaly board you may want to look at.

J.,

I have been without insurance many a year.I would suggesting trying to find a Childrens Miracle Network, or an organization
that can help you. I do not Know anything about plagio, but I wish you the best and your family too. You can check with yor local Walmart about Childrens Miracle Network . C.

first, are you sure your insurance doesnt cover it? Some do. The people at cranial can help you with this. Our insurance covered most of our daughters 2 helmets.
Second, at the appointment they will let you know if your son needs one or if some excersices can help. I would suggest doing it even if insurance doesnt cover it. It made a great difference to our daughter head shape. She still is wearing her second one. The people at cranial are very friendly and professional.
Just remember the small amount of money you spend now means a big difference to your son later in life.

My son who will be three next week wore a DOC band for three months from 9-12 months. Our experience at Cranial Technologies was amazing. The people were all so friendly. I was so stressed about the whole thing and they made it so much better. My son's head looks much better, but I wish I'd had him in there much earlier. The result would have been better. Good luck. If he does wear one, remember, he won't remember this (except for the pics you take.) Try and embrace it and blow off the weird looks and comments you get.

I have twin girls who are now almost 3 years old. Both of then had the DOC band through Cranial Tech. Initially our insurance company said that they would not cover the bands but with persistance by myself and with the help of Cranial Tech and our Doctor we were able to get all three bands covered. One of our daughters needed two bands. Her plagiocephaly was very pronounced and the changes after treatment were amazing! Her ears were even again and her eyes were no longer assymetrical & different sizes. Our other daughter only needed one band. She had mild plagiocephaly, to the point that we did not notice it until we had her evaluated. We actually had her evaluated as a precaution & her measurements were quite a surprise to us. My girls were a little younger than your son so we saw changes faster than you might initially. The staff at Cranial Tech were great! The girls adjusted to the bands with no problems and really took no notice of them when they had them. The casting was harder on me than it was on them but the staff made the experience comfortable. I am so happy we did it (and would have done it regardless of the insurance coverage; I am also a SAHM so I understand your position, we had two at the same time). Someone had recommended Cranial Tech to me and I have since recommended them to someone I used to work with whose daughter needed a band. She was also pleased. Let me know if you have any other questions. I would be happy to help if I can.

My brother has triplets and two of them are currently wearing helmets. My sister-in-law keeps a blog and may be able to help you with questions. The website is www.krististrio.blogspot.com. Hope it helps!

Hi J.

You've gotten a lot of responses, but I thought I would add my 2 cents. I currently have twin 6 month old daughters in the helmets. We went through Dr. Vicari at Children's Memorial, and I can't say enough good things about him, and everyone else there. One daughter had to have surgery for craniosynostosis, and therefore needs to have the helmet to shape the bone as it grows. The other has tortocollis and plagio. She has been in the helmet for 2 weeks, and there has already been some progress. Both are also in physical therapy through Children's for the tortocollis. I was very nervous before putting them in the helmets, as I thought they would really protest. But they didn't make a peep. And they are so common these days, that I don't get the ignorant comments I was worried about.

Hope all of this helps you. By the way, the folks at Children's will help you at dealing with the insurance company. Depending on the severity of the case, it may not be considered cosmetic.

Someone who's child had the same condition used cranio-sacral therapy (I can find out a therapist for you if you want, email me offlist) and then saw my homeopath, dr. Josephine Polich (www.dupagehomeopathic.com). Here's a link to the info on the case and how the baby improved faster w/ a homeopathic remedy and no helmet:
http://www.dupagehomeopathic.com/homeopathic_photographs....

My son's head looked like the baby on The Family Guy,football
shaped. My ped at the time suggested a helmet,I was given info
on the helmets,but decided against it. I just used my hands to
if you will,"shape" his head, I did this every day and Nathan is now going on three years old and his head is perfect shape. I suggest going to a ped specialist to make sure it is not a more serious condition. My family was very blessed to have had what we tried work. Do what you and your family thinks is best for your child.

My daughter started wearing a helmet at the same age for flattening of the right side of her head due to torticollis. I went to the Cranial Tech office in Glenview and they were wonderful! In the weeks building up to her getting her helmet I was pretty stressed about how she would react, but the baby never even noticed she had it on including when she was sleeping at night (my biggest concern). She was diagnosed with mild flattening, so she only wore it about 3 months. The Cranial Tech specialist said 6 months is a good age to have the helmet because their little heads can be manipulated easily. I do not have any regrets, although the decision was easier for me because our insurance covered it. If you have any other questions or concerns (or would like to see pictures of my daughter in her helmet and the before/after photos), I can send you a personal email. Good luck!

Annie

Hi J.
We were sent to Cranial Tech when my son was 4 months old. They did a consultation and gave us a bunch of things to try (ways to get him to reposition his head) and we went back 3 months later. The things we did ended up being enough and we didn't need the band. So don't panic just yet, going there doesn't automatically mean a helmet.
good luck!

Hi J.,

My daughter had plagiocephaly (flat head) and we went to Cranial Technology in Oakbrook. She also has Torticollis in her neck. First off insurance did not cover the $3000 helmet for us. She also got the helmet at 5 months. She wore the helmet just over 2 months and was fine with it, but my suggestion to you would be to see a specialist in the field. I went to Dr. Frank Vicari with Children's Memorial. He is a children's plastic surgeon. He has work with 1000s of cases for children with the helmet. I should have gone to him first. What I liked about this doctor was he flat out said "I am not here to sell helmets". If your child really "Needs" a helmet, he will be honest with you. He reassured us and answered all our questions. Cranial Technology suggested we get a second helmet for my daughter, another $3000. So we decided to get a second opinion. The problems we had with my daughter's head and face would not be fixed by the helmet. He told me that her one eye that closes more would take years to resolve not weeks or months and the helmet won't fix it. If your son has torticollis, I would get that worked out first or as much as you can before the helmet. The helmet can wait. I was told by both Dr. Vicari and Cranial Tech that I could have waited for the helmet. Best time is to get it is before 1 year. One problem I had with Cranial Tech was there is no doctor that oversees their office and I really felt that they were into selling helmets. I would see a specialist first and do as much research as you can about your child’s condition. I am not sure Cranial Tech still does free consultations, but you can go to them and get a consult and then make the decision for yourself. Now I don’t want to put down Cranial Tech because the helmet did help with the shape of my daughter’s head. They just kept changing their suggestions to me. First time I went they told me it is good to get the helmet at an early age and that the average time in the helmet is 3-4 months. She was in it for 2 months 1 week. At the end of her time in the helmet, when they suggested a second helmet they said getting the helmet at an older age is good because their head is grown more. So like I said do some research. I think the two helmets are the Star Band and the Doc Band.

Please get it. My nephew needed one and his Mother ignored the situation. She kept making him wear hats and such. Now he is 6 years old and his head is flat on one side. It looks like someone hit him on the side of his head with a frying pan. He is still a handsome doll, but flat heat! Get the helmet and be happy we live in a world where these things are readily available.

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