5.21.2011

Fixin' Sean's Flat...

Sean HATED tummy time when he was smaller. He would scream and turn red in the face in protest and make me feel like I was torturing him.  He also never turned his head to the side when he slept, but instead kept it facing straight up. My mom would tell me to put him to sleep on his side, but I was always terrified that he would turn his little nose into the mattress and smother himself. So what happened? He developed flat head syndrome. This syndrome has actually become pretty common since The "Back to Sleep" campaign of the '90's. The campaign drastically reduced the number deaths due to SIDS, but also greatly increased the prevalence of positional deformities, or more specifically in Sean's case: brachycephaly.

Brachycephaly:
"Positional Brachycephaly refers to a condition where the head is disproportionately wide compared to its depth. It is caused by prolonged positioning on the back of the head. The head flattens uniformly, resulting in a head shape that is very wide and short. There can also be increased head height on the back of the head."

Sean's pediatrician brought the flattening of Sean's head to our attention and referred us to a neurosurgeon in San Antonio. Unfortunately the clinic was very busy and we had to wait several months to get Sean in, thus wasting precious time that could have helped correct Sean's brachycephaly faster, but we trust God that He knows best. The neurosurgeon confirmed our fears that his flat head was a pretty severe case of brachycephaly. If this were only a cosmetic issue it would be one thing, but there are many problems associated with flat head syndrome for kids as they get older, such as developmental delays, vision problems, hearing problems, and orthodontic problems. Needless to say we were willing to do anything to help Sean avoid all of that. The "anything" we ended up having to do was putting a three thousand dollar helmet on our just-been-paid-off-completely credit card. Our son is so worth it though and we know God will provide.

Thankfully there was a clinic back in our town that could make a mold of Sean's head and have him fitted for a STARband helmet. It took roughly a month for his helmet to be ready and he now wears it 23 hours a day. The one hour off is for bathing and cleaning the helmet, and drying time for hair and helm. Not to mention a lot of snuggles and neck kisses while the helmet isn't in the way! The helmet prevents Sean's head from growing any wider, and allows it instead to fill out the empty space in the back. The orthotist likened it to how when you push a balloon in on the sides it fills out the other way.

Sean has been wearing his helmet for almost two months now, since March 24. He has adapted to wearing it exceedingly well. In fact it has saved his little noggin many times as he learned to walk and tumbles were common. How funny that something I was so apprehensive about can have its positive aspects! His flat spot is improving day to day, and we look forward to taking him to his orthotist every month to get his head measured. Thank God for such sweet Christian people at that clinic, they have made this whole process so much better than it could have been. The longest Sean might wear the helmet is until he is a year and a half old, but we hope that he won't need that long in it.

Smiles for Mama.

At the beginning I was worried about what people would think when they saw Sean in his helmet, but very quickly I realized that we are so blessed to have a healthy son who has a condition that can be completely corrected and not something more serious. People stare, but I don't mind. One comment my husband overheard was a kid asking his mother, "Why does that baby have a bowling ball on his head?" Well this mom is very grateful for that bowling ball!
Playing at Nana's
Ransacking the Tupperware cabinet.
Not quite sure if he likes this ride yet! (First time in his bicycle trailer)
Hamming it up at our mall's playground.
Easter Sunday
-Left Picture: Sean at 4 months -Right Picture: Sean at 8 1/2 months after only 3 weeks in the helmet.
The top of his head is not as sloped, his neckline is more defined, and the back of his head is rounding out.

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