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How long should parents expect helmet therapy to last?

A common question many parents have when starting cranial remolding therapy is how long their baby will be required to wear a helmet. While this depends on several factors, the earlier baby starts their helmet therapy, the quicker the treatment will be.


Factors that Influence Helmet Treatment Duration


A 2019 study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine investigated what factors influence the length of treatment for successful cranial remolding helmets. What they found was there are two things that most strongly impact the length of time that a baby will spend in a helmet.


Age at the beginning of treatment


One of the most important factors that influence the length of cranial remolding therapy is the age of your baby when you begin treatment. Babies who begin their treatment earlier tend to need less time to correct the flattening. There are some exceptions, but on the whole, this trend has been proven.


Babies who begin treatment at 3 months tend to require only two months of helmet therapy, while a 7-month-old may require as many as four months. This is why it is important to talk to your doctor when you notice flattening and not delay the conversation.


Severity of plagiocephaly


Another factor that influences the length of treatment is how severe the flattening is when treatment begins. A baby with severe plagiocephaly or brachycephaly will often require a slightly longer treatment course than a more moderate case.


Average Helmet Therapy Timeframe


According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, most infants will complete their cranial remolding within 12 weeks when treatment is started at the ideal age of 3-6 months. They also noted that correction is possible in babies up to 18 months, but the treatment duration will be longer.


The most important thing to keep in mind is that plagiocephaly and brachycephaly are extremely treatable. While helmet therapy isn’t something many parents expect, most families find the treatment much easier than they anticipate. Cranial remolding therapy tends to be brief and effective.


Sources:


Effects of Initial Age and Severity on Cranial Remolding Orthotic Treatment for Infants with Deformational Plagiocephaly https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723372/


Positional Plagiocephaly https://www.aans.org/en/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Positional-Plagiocephaly


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