DOC Band

Little Man outgrew his DOC Band last Sunday and had his “graduation” at Cranial Technologies in Paramus, NJ on Friday April 30, 2010. He wore two helmets, each for 8 weeks, and his cephalic index went from 100% to 86%. That was from a +5.3 standard deviation to a 1.2! Amazing results. Here are the final photos.

Little Man was NOT happy. He’s 8.5 months old now and is going through stranger anxiety a bit late (or possibly separation anxiety?). In any event, he was SOBBING throughout all the photos and measurements, but I really wanted to know where he ended up. I think many plagio/brachy parents do.

He also had mild plagiocephaly on his left side, starting out with cranial vault asymmetry of 6mm.  When he finished, it was down to 2mm.  I barely notice anything any longer. And while his head isn’t at the “mean” it’s definitely normal looking.

For anyone contemplating banding your baby, I think Little Man is proof that it works.  He started at 4.25 months and finished at 8.5 months, with an 11 day lapse between helmets. I think it was worth every penny and if you are lucky enough to have health insurance that will pay for a cranial remolding orthotic, do not hesitate!

After 16 weeks and 2 helmets, Little Man is done with his DOC Band(s). This past Sunday, he developed red marks that did not fade after an hour. So Dude and I decided to remove the helmet and be done with it. I called Cranial Technologies on Monday morning and scheduled Little Man’s exit appointment for Friday. Once I have the final photo study and measurements, I’ll share here for my fellow plagio & brachy parents. But here are photos I took today of his head from top, right and left angles. I think he looks pretty darn good!

When we had the DSi for Little Man’s second helmet, it was 7 weeks into his first one.  I was told he had two weeks remaining and, thus, thought there would be no lapse. However, when he went for his weekly adjustment at Cranial Technologies on February 18th, his clinician shaved the foam inside the helmet down to the plastic and told me if I see redness on his forehead or anywhere else that doesn’t fade after an hour to just discontinue use.

Of course that happened that very night.

So Little Man was  going to be sans helmet for a week.  As he now sleeps on both sides, rolling all over the crib, I wasn’t too worried about regression. But I was a bit upset that if he had a growth spurt, he’d miss the opportunity to redirect the growth to the back of his head.  We were scheduled to pick up DOC Band #2 on Thursday, February 25th.

Then it snowed.  And Little Man got a cold.  So we rescheduled for Monday, March 1st.  Little Man didn’t wear a helmet for 11 days and when he got the new one, I was all pumped. I’m thinking, he’s only 6.5 months old and has lots of growth ahead of him. I thought some babies don’t even get helmets this young and they see great improvement and this is my son’s SECOND one.  Well, the posterior (some call it “brachy”) band he wears has stronger pressure than most of Cranial Technologies’ designs. And I took him back the next day for a check.  We were on a modified schedule at first but he slept in it by Wednesday night and wore it all day on Thursday (3/4).  I took it off for his torticollis stretches and all looked OK. But during his hour off on Thursday night, the red marks didn’t fade.  So he slept without it.

Friday, March 5th, I called Cranial Technologies in the morning and told them what had happened.  They had me put the band back on for a few hours and come by. I’m lucky that the one I go to—in Paramus, NJ—is only 30 miles from my office (a bit further from my home) so it wasn’t too bad of a trip.  The tech who saw me (not my usual one, though she stopped in) made some adjustments to the holding points and told me to let the redness completely fade before putting it back on.  And after that, to be on a 3 hours on/1 hour off schedule through the weekend and to call on Monday.  He tolerated it well during the weekend but did not sleep in it.

Monday, I called and we were on a 6 hours on/1 hour off schedule.  Tuesday morning (3/9) was his first day wearing it 23/7.  He did OK and when I took off the helmet on Wednesday morning to check him, there were red marks again. They faded, but it took around 2 hours.  We saw our usual clinician on Wed. and she made another relief on the holding point and an adjustment to the back of the band (to allow for growth).  He seemed fine last night.  But, again, this morning, he had redness.

I spoke to our clinician and she feels for the next several days, to just give him more off time. If he doesn’t adjust to the pressure of this helmet, Cranial Technologies will make a new band. But they’re not sure if it’s a fit issue or because of something else. Honestly, it is fitting OK but after he sleeps in it and rolls around, it shifts too much.  I don’t think I’m doing the wrong thing by not insisting they remake it immediately. This could happen again. So he’ll have two hour breaks (in the AM and in the PM) instead of one. I don’t think that 22/7 should hinder his progress.

So that’s the saga. I hope we’re on track now. I’ll update next week after his appointment.

For now I’ve settled on a blog design.  I liked the mommy giraffe and baby and the soothing green colors. Of course I may change my mind—change is good. And I think I’ve wasted too much time today on this when I should have been doing work.

So here’s the most recent updates about me and Little Man.

Torticollis regression: This began after he outgrew DOC Band #1 on February 18th.  I’m not sure if he was too used to the helmet on his head or if it was another reason, but Little Man’s tilt came back.  I don’t have percentages and he hasn’t seen a specialist. My pediatrician sent him to physical therapy when he was 2 months old and he’s been going for 4.5 months now. I’m really frustrated and worried. More so about his neck muscle than his head shape.

He Got DOC Band #2: Finally! After delays due to snow and a slight cold, Little Man got his new helmet on Monday, March 1st. Because of the style of band (specialized for brachycephaly) it tends to tip forward. And the helmet was seriously rubbing on a spot on the bridge of Little Man’s nose.  I think it’s fixed now, but I’m keeping an eagle eye on it.

Of course he’s more “aware” of this helmet because he’s older now (6.5 months) and he’s often tugging at the band and the velcro.  So I’m not sure how much that affects the redness. And I think it bothered him last night as he slept, since he was extremely restless.

Got his “Big Boy” Carseat: Since Little Man is a big baby, we moved him to a convertible car seat about two weeks ago. He seems to like it. We got a Britax Marathon CS in the Matrix pattern.

Not much else to report except that our dog, Casey, got his teeth cleaned.  Another expense we just put on the credit card. Debt is SO not fun. But Casey’s breath smells much better and as soon as his hot spot clears up (he was licking the shaved spot where his IV was) we’ll be good.

Ciao for now!

Last Thursday, during Little Man’s final adjustment at Cranial Technologies, his clinician said that if the red marks on his forehead don’t go away during the hour break for cleaning (the helmet) and bath time, then I should just discontinue use.  Well, that happened. There were major marks on his head and his last day in DOC Band #1 was that night—February 18th.

His second DOC Band won’t be in until this Thursday, February 25th, so Little Man is enjoying a week off from his helmet.

I’m sad that he lost a week’s growth and I hope the weather forecast of snow holds off until AFTER his appointment on Thursday. I don’t want to lose any more time.  Little Man will be nearly 6.5 months old (6 months two weeks) when he gets the second band.  And while I want him to get as much out of it as possible, I hope he’ll only be in the helmet through April.  It would be nice for him to graduate before the warm weather.

And by going forward with a 2nd helmet, he’ll be wearing one during our vacation for my 40th birthday in April.  While most people have been kind and encouraging, I wonder how he’ll be received.  I hope in the same manner.  I guess the decorations help.  I’m not sure how I’m going to decorate this time. I’ll probably just get stickers this time, from Michael’s (does anyone know of any  other places to get stickers?) and use the Modge Podge to seal.  But I still feel that Coree at BlingYourBand does a great job and I’d buy a second design from her as well.

Not much else to report.  I’m sleep deprived again because I think more teeth are coming. The first two are out and there are 18 more to come. Wish me luck.

Being the assertive Aries that I am, I have convinced Dude to get Little Man a second helmet to get his head shape closer to the “mean”.  He has done amazingly well so far—his cephalic index (measurement of brachycephaly) went from 100% to 92.2% in only six weeks.  The mean is 78%.  I had Cranial Technologies do a 2nd photo study and take measurements last Thursday.  I’m not going to bore you with the other numbers, but I will say that his CVA (cranial vault index) also decreased from 6 mm to 4 mm.  That was the mild plagiocephaly he also has on his left side.

Here are the photos. Pics on the left were taken 3 weeks before he got his DOC Band (on 12/23/09).  Something spooked him, so he was SOBBING and, thus, looks so sad in the second set of photos.

While the financial burden is going to be hard to handle, I know I’m doing the best for Little Man.  Our future may include fantastic jobs and our situation can change. But there is only a short window of time to correct my baby’s head shape.

I should try to blog about something else, but getting my son’s head reshaped has been my main focus of late.

Little Man is doing well.  Four weeks in the DOC Band and nice progress!

I don’t have numbers yet, but I hope his Cephalic Index is much lower. I want Cranial Technologies to do another Photostudy so Dude and I can discuss the possibility (or probability, I believe) of a second band. I want Little Man to be as close to normal as possible.

Little Man has shown a wonderful improvement thus far!  My photos aren’t of the same pose, but hopefully you’ll see the progress he’s made.

The slope on the top of his head is less “pointy” and the back has really rounded out.  Actually, after seeing these photos side by side, I feel more hopeful about his future progress with the DOC Band.  However, I’m still concerned that he’ll need a second one.  Per his clinician at Cranial Technologies he has about 3 adjustments remaining in the helmet.  I wish it was more, because I have a feeling I’ll want him to get a 2nd DOC Band to further the improvement.

Here are photos from the top.  The first was taken several weeks before his photo study.

It’s not the same distance or angle, so the second picture is not a really good comparison photo, but you’ll be able to see how it’s filling in nicely.

So hopefully he’ll REALLY grow over the next 3 weeks and I’ll feel comfortable with having him in just ONE band. But if the progress isn’t as much as I’d like, I may get him a second—if I can convince Dude that we should add to our debt to do so.

Here’s one last photo comparison—Little Man now and when he was a newborn.  Again not a great comparison, but I keep thinking of how oval his head was and this is why I’m not sure I’ll be satisfied until it’s more like this. And I realize a baby’s head gets LESS oval as he gets older. But I want Little Man’s head shape to be as close to the “norm” as possible.

My Little Devil

Thanks to Coree at Bling Your Band!

It’s not so bad.  I mean, yeah, it’s a bit unwieldy and rougher against my arm when I feed him a bottle. But it doesn’t look sterile (even undecorated in white) and Little Man looks rather cute in it.  He really isn’t crying or sleeping any differently. He does not like when I take it on and off for his exercises (for his Torticollis) but beyond that, seems to be adjusting well to his new “chapeau.”

After months of feeling guilt for allowing my son’s head to flatten, I’m now feeling HOPE that by wearing the DOC band that he’ll have a base of his skull again.  Even though this has cost us a lot financially, I went to the right place for my son.

I’m going to add a “page” to my blog with before photos and share them with you.  I know there are other moms who are dealing with plagiocephaly, brachycephaly, scaphocephaly and torticollis.  But I don’t want this to be the ONLY focus of my blog.  This is just a part of Little Man’s life—and mine.  Motherhood is full of challenges and celebrations and I want to document as many of them as I can.

Little Man will be my only child and I want to ENJOY his infancy and his milestones and ever-developing personality.

So the helmet is just a part of his life—it doesn’t define him.

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