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New Technology Makes Treatment of Flat Spots Much Easier for Infants and Families

September 13, 2016

Greg Armstrong, CPO/L Chief Prosthetist/Orthotist at Arkansas Children’s Hospital
Did you know 1 in 3 of all babies will show some type of positional skull deformity?

A baby’s brain grows fast, especially in the first year. Their skulls are made of soft, mobile bones to help with delivery and give the brain the space it needs to grow. Sometimes, babies are born with or develop a head shape deformity. There are many reasons this happens, including prematurity, birth complications or being a twin or triplet with limited space while developing in the womb. When an infant head is growing and meets resistance, it develops a flat spot or deformity called positional plagiocephaly.

This is very common in babies, does not cause any pain and is correctable. The flat spot or deformity can be corrected by encouraging the skull to grow the desired direction using a special custom-made helmet called a cranial remolding orthosis or “custom helmet”. Fabricating these one-of-a-kind helmets used to be a lengthy and stressful process for the baby and family. A plaster mold of the baby’s head was created by producing a cast of the head. This was a messy process! Casting and measurements took about 20 minutes and could be extremely uncomfortable and stressful for the baby. It was also a long process for the clinicians and technicians, and required multiple follow-up visits for the baby and family. But now fitting a baby for a helmet has never been easier!

Through a generous donation to Arkansas Children’s, we were able to purchase a state-of-the-art STARscanner for taking measurements to create custom helmets. The STARscanner:

  • Uses an eye-safe Class 1 laser to scan the baby’s head
  • Takes 1.5 seconds to capture the image
  • Results in a more precise fitting
  • Sends the image directly to the manufacturer in a matter of seconds

The STARscanner also reduces clinician and technician time, allowing us to see more patients. In 2015, our Orthotics and Prosthetics staff treated nearly 300 infants with head-shape deformities. And with follow-up visits needed for each of these children, thousands of scans are performed each year. We are so grateful for the STARscanner technology and the generous donor who made it possible. With this technology, we can treat more babies, create more precise helmets and offer a comfortable environment for both the baby and family. 

Learn more the many services offered by Arkansas Children’s Hospital’s Orthotics and Prosthetics. If you need a referral, call 501-364-1192 for more information.

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