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HealthBeat: A Helping Helmet

October 29, 2003, 6:15 PM by Jaine Andrews

Josie Hamer's parents did everything the doctor ordered when she was born eight months ago. They were careful to feed her well, always buckle her into a car seat, and put her on her back to sleep. But like a growing number of newborns, their baby wound up with a flat head as a result of spending so much time on her back. The fix wasn't fast, but the result is beautiful. Randi Hamer admits the idea of reshaping her daughter's head with a custom-molded helmet wasn't exactly a mother's dream. Hamer says, "I would just cry every time I saw her in it. She wasn't very happy at first, it was really heavy on her head." But Mom soon learned to follow Josie's lead. Hamer says, "It was just two or three days and she was fine. And it was like there was nothing wrong with her." Nothing that a process called "cranial remolding" couldn't fix. Children's Care Hospital and School Orthotist, Carrie Beets says, "I think the manufacturer figures there's about 70-80% percent of the correction built into the helmet and then we make other modifications along the way." It wasn't long before Josie's parents began to detect a difference. Hamer says, "It was just amazing how much in just that first week. Her head, the flat started rounding out a little bit. Her top cone head flattened out on the top." Beets says, "It is a dramatic result, but the helmets are pretty loose. They've got a little bit of wobble in it and anybody who's had a baby knows that if they hurt, they let you know if a big fat hurry." Mom and dad even began to notice something they didn't expect. Hamer says, "She used to be a round little pumpkin-head. And now she's just forming into a regular shape." And mom also found a way to have a little fun with the experience. Hamer says, Randi "Yeah, we had stickers. We had flowers. We had lady bugs and bumblebees, and everything. And now, we've got pumpkins for Halloween." Three months later? Everybody's happy with the result. Hamer says, "It was definitely worth it. I would do it again." If the problem isn't corrected, children can develop misalignment problems with their jaws, even vision and hearing problems. It's not likely Josie will have future problems. She may hit her head once in a while until she gets used to the fact that the helmet isn't there to protect her any more. Cranial Remolding Plagiocephaly

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