Plagiocephaly (Flat Head)

Plagiocephaly describes a condition in which a baby’s skull is flattened on one side of the posterior or anterior part of the head.  Then name “plagiocepahly” literally means oblique head translated from greek.  Plagiocephaly can be present at birth or develop during infancy, which can be positional or deformational.  When Plagiocepahly is present, parts of the brain that are being constricted by the flat part of the skull can under develop or other parts of the brain can overdevelop.  This condition usually occurs when muscular torticollis is present which causes neck muscles to be abnormally tight and affects the skull formation in certain positions.  If caught early enough positional changes can be effective in avoiding helmet wearing for this condition.

Causes and Risk Factors of Plagiocephaly

  • As mentioned before muscular Torticollis is most often the cause of Plagiocephaly
  • Infants born premature that have to spend time in a fixed position in neonatal ICU can develop this condition.
  • Infants who sleep mostly on their back or in car seats for extended periods of time are more at risk for deformational plagiocephaly.

Symptoms of Plagiocephaly

  • Infants that have a flat side at the back of the skull, usually asymmetrical. 
  • Often there is a symmetrical flat spot at the back of the head or it can be present in the forehead.
  • These symptoms can sometimes be easy to spot or hardly noticeable on some occasions.
  • Some mild developmental delays can occur with Positional Plagiocephaly

At home Treatment of Plagiocephaly

  • There are positional changes that the parent can make and here at Reliant Physical therapy, Dr. Jacobs will instruct you on proper positions and exercises to perform with your baby to prevent and alleviate torticollis symptoms that cause your baby to lay to long in one position.

Treatment of Cervical radiculopathy

We use the following approaches to treat Plagiocephaly

  • ASTR® Tools: Our doctors use a variety of ASTR® tools to release scar tissue and myofascial restriction, which can decrease mobility and flexibility.  These conditions exist when torticollis is present.
  • Special exercise program to decrease discomfort, strengthen the muscles, stabilize and help the infant to return to normal positional situations to prevent further laying on flat areas in the skull.
  • Special instructions on how to speed up the recovery time.
  • Patient avoided hip surgery.

  • Patient avoided back surgery.

  • This newborn came in unable to move his neck from the side position. He suffered from torticollis, severe neck and back spasms. After just 1 ASTR treatment, he had complete range of motion.

  • Patient came in unable to move his neck from the side position. After 3 ASTR treatments, he regained full range of motion.

  • This young gymnast came in unable to do the splits. After just 1 ASTR treatment, she had full range of motion.


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