Corrective Helmet For Infants - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Corrective Helmet For Infants

Reporter: Shannon Samson

Web Producer: Jason Bailey

One in every 10 babies will have an abnormally shaped head from sleeping on his back. Most of the time, the problem isn't dangerous, but many parents want it corrected.

Jack Nagy's big blue eyes are the first thing most people notice. But a few months ago, it was his head that caught the attention of his parents.

Gail Nagy, Jack's mom says, "He was about two-months-old, and we noticed that his head was starting to get flat in back."

Flat enough that Jack's doctors recommended a corrective helmet. Doctor Francis Papay says abnormally shaped heads like Jack's aren't dangerous, but they are more common because parents now lay babies on their backs to prevent SIDS.

Doctor Papay, a plastic surgeon, says always letting them lay on their backs, can cause the misshaping on the baby's head.

"The problem with that is they get flattening in the back of their heads," says Papay.

Corrective helmets have been around for several years, but Papay helped design this new version. It's clear, so doctors can see how the head is forming, and it has a pump that puts pressure on the areas that direct growth.

Papay says, "What we're doing here is producing directional growth; we're not squeezing the head. What we're doing is, we're saying, 'don't grow over here; grow more over here.'"

Each helmet is custom-made.

First, doctors take an impression of the child's head. Then, designers sand the mold to make it symmetrical. The next step is to heat the plastic and place it over the mold.

The final product is a helmet that kids wear for about six months.

Jack wears his helmet about 23-hours a day. Mom says it's a challenge but worth it.

Gail says, "They take measurements every month when we go in there, and with all that, we know that the helmet is making a difference."

A difference that even has Jack smiling.

The only alternative treatment option is to reposition the child's head during sleep, but Doctor Papay says that's often difficult to do and it's not as effective as a helmet.

The new helmet is in the process of getting approval from the Food and Drug Administration. It can cost anywhere from $1,000-to-$3,000 and insurance will sometimes cover it.

Powered by Frankly