Does My Child Need a Molding Helmet?
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Does My Child Need a Molding Helmet?

How to tell if your baby could benefit from using a molding helmet or cap.

Some asymmetry or unevenness of an infant’s head shape is completely normal. However, when a greater degree of flattening is apparent, a molding helmet can be used to improve the shape of an infant’s head.

Atypical flattening of a baby’s head is often causing by positioning. Other factors that may influence an infant’s head shape include prematurity, birth trauma, positioning in the uterus, or multiple births (twins). A young infant’s head shape can sometimes be influenced by repositioning the baby to keep them off the flattened area. Infants should be seen by a qualified pediatrician, who can determine if the child’s head shape is also related to torticollis, or tight neck muscles. This may also require therapy, or stretching sessions. The physician can also rule out any serious conditions, such as premature fusing of the sutures in the skull.

There is only a small window of time where a molding helmet is effective. Most professionals agree that molding treatment should start at age 4-7 months. A molding helmet is often worn for several months, and the length of treatment time is dependent upon several factors, including:

• How often the child wears the helmet

• The child’s age or adjusted age

• How quickly the child grows

A molding helmet is worn full-time, with the exception of a few short breaks and a cleaning/drying period. After the helmet is fit, close and careful follow-up should be done by the orthotist, or technician that fits braces, to monitor the child’s growth and correction.

Cranial molding helmets do require FDA approval. Each style is slightly different, using different types of foams, plastics, and strapping materials. Some of the more popular brands of FDA-approved molding helmets are:

• DOC band

• Clarren helmet

• STARband

• Ballert cranial molding helmet

• Craniocap

• Danmar helmet

A molding helmet helps to shape an infant’s head by making contact with more prominent areas, while allowing growth in more flattened areas. Since an intimate and accurate shape is important when making the helmet, a custom mold of the infant’s head is needed. This can be done by hand using plaster or similar molding materials, or it can be made using a computer scanner, or CAD/CAM system.

Insurance companies often cover the cost of the molding helmet and treatment. Some companies require certain measurements or pictures for prior authorization, which can be done by the orthotist that fits the helmet. Some may also require a period of repositioning, or keeping the infant off the flattened area, before paying for a molding helmet.

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