Pumpkins and Plagiocephaly: Tips from a PT
Fall is here, which means there are lots of pumpkins to be seen...and you may still have some pumpkins decorated from Halloween! Pumpkins offer a great visual for head shapes, too!
Plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome, can be caused by either a turn preference inside the womb or after birth. Turn preference, or a baby's preference to turn to one side, causes the neck muscles to become tight (torticollis.) If baby keeps his or her head turned to one side for long periods of time (think sleeping at night), the pressure from the surface (crib mattress, bassinet, swings, loungers, etc.) causes a flattening effect. This is where the pumpkin visual comes into play. Pumpkins growing in a patch usually lie on one side if not positioned to rest on the bottom of the plant, thus making a flat spot. The pumpkin in the picture has more of a flattening on the whole back side (such as seen in brachycephaly) with a little more on the right side.
Plagiocephaly and torticollis can be treated by a PT (or OT) with positioning, stretches and strengthening exercises. Brachycephaly is usually the hardest to treat because it includes both sides. It is best to refer to therapy as early as possible, or around 2-3 months old, and especially before baby becomes more mobile around 6 months old in order for the positioning strategies to help round the head shape.
If you have concerns about your child's head shape and turn preferences, please reach out to a Sidekick therapist today!
Whitney Castle, PT, DPT