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What is a Cranial Remolding Orthosis and How Does it Work?



Many babies will experience a flat spot on the back of their head for many reasons ranging from the position in utero, torticollis, or supine (back) sleeping position. While the condition is not severe, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends cranial remolding treatment for moderate to severe cases of flattening.


In this article, we will talk about cranial remolding orthosis, how it works and what you really need to know.


What is Head Flattening Anyway?


Plagiocephaly, Brachycephaly, Scaphocephaly, oh my! While it’s a lot easier to just refer to it as Baby Flat Head Syndrome, most medical professionals will stick to the technical jargon.


Plagiocephaly is when one side of the back of the head is flattened.


Brachycephaly occurs when both sides of the back of the head appear flat.


Scaphocephaly is a potentially more severe condition where the sagittal suture of the skull prematurely closes. This causes the skull to have a long, narrow shape with fullness in the forehead.


Cranial Remolding Orthosis

A cranial remolding orthosis, or CRM, is a fancy way of referencing a baby helmet. Cranial helmets are hard plastic on the outside and soft foam on the inside. Their purpose is to provide a custom fit that will allow for the baby’s head to naturally reshape over time.


Types of Cranial Remolding Orthoses


Whether your baby winds up with a helmet-style orthosis or a band orthosis option, they are very similar in their composition. Both types have a hard shell and a soft inner layer to ensure your baby is comfortable for 23-hour wear. They also function very similarly in how they help create a more symmetrical head shape.


How does Cranial Remolding Work?


Cranial remolding works by applying gentle, static pressure to the side of the head that is not flattened. As persistent pressure is applied, the head will take on a more natural shape by restricting growth in the prominent areas and encouraging growth in the flat areas.


This will allow the head to safely and consistently reshape over time. As the baby wears their specially molded helmet, the helmet allows for the head to shift to a more symmetrical shape without any pain or discomfort. In most cases, the reshaping will take place over the course of 2-4 months.


It is a big decision whether or not to use a helmet for head flattening. In some cases, your doctor or specialist might feel very strongly in favor or against a helmet for your baby depending upon age, severity, and other factors. However, in many cases, the decision is ultimately up to the parents.


It’s important to understand the process in order to make the best decision for your family.


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