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New STAR Cranial Center of Excellence Offers Cutting-Edge Treatment to San Antonio-Area Infants

Thursday, June 17, 2010 Child Health News J E 4
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SAN ANTONIO, June 16 The STAR Cranial Center of Excellence, a specialized provider of treatment for infants with plagiocephaly and other head shape abnormalities, recently opened a new location in San Antonio. The Center currently also has offices in the Baltimore, Dallas and Orlando areas, and has treated thousands of infants with STARband® cranial remolding orthoses, also commonly referred to as cranial helmets or headbands. The new San Antonio location offers the area's infants access to cutting-edge cranial remolding treatment and clinical expertise.

Plagiocephaly, or deformational plagiocephaly, which is the flattening of one side of the head, has become increasingly common since the early 1990s when the American Academy of Pediatrics began recommending that infants be positioned on their backs to sleep in an effort to prevent SIDS. Plagiocephaly can develop as a result of babies resting for prolonged periods in one position in an infant carrier or crib. It can also be acquired as a result of in-utero positioning, common in cases of twins or multiple births. Torticollis, which is a muscular condition in which the head is tilted toward one side and the chin is elevated and turned toward the opposite side, is another potential contributor. Other conditions also often referred to as "plagiocephaly" include brachycephaly, which is the flattening and widening of the back side of the head, scaphocephaly, which is a long and narrow head shape frequently seen with infants born prematurely, and craniosynostosis, which is a condition in which one or more of the fibrous sutures in an infant skull prematurely fuses.

"If a parent notices that their child has an abnormal head shape, it's important to address it as early as possible," said Darren Poidevin, CPO, LPO, National Clinical Operations Manager at the new STAR Cranial Center of Excellence in San Antonio. "There is a window of opportunity to provide head shape correction that begins to narrow at 12 months of age, and usually closes at 18 months of age when the sutures in an infant's skull fuse. It's important to realize that some sort of intervention is required. In some cases, repositioning an infant and 'tummy time' efforts may aid in correction. But in other cases, additional treatment with a cranial remolding helmet may be necessary. And this is not simply a cosmetic issue. Cranial remolding helmets allow us to take an abnormal head shape and make it normal."

Following a referral from a pediatrician, neurosurgeon, or other specialist, infants with plagiocephaly or a related condition are evaluated by a practitioner at the STAR Cranial Center of Excellence, scanned with the state-of-the-art STARscanner system, and treated when necessary with a STARband cranial remolding orthosis. In cases where an infant's plagiocephaly is considered mild, or if the practitioner believes the infant is young enough, the practitioner may recommend that the patient be rescanned after several weeks of repositioning efforts to see if the infant's head shape improves without STARband treatment.

San Antonio mother Amy McManus realized that her seven-month-old son Honor might need cranial remolding treatment after talking to two mothers who had children currently wearing cranial remolding helmets.

"We had been wondering for about three months if we needed to see the pediatrician about Honor's oddly-shaped head," McManus said. "After talking to friends and then our pediatrician, I realized if those children have helmets, maybe my child needs something, too."

Poidevin evaluated Honor and fit him with a STARband, a custom fabricated cranial remolding helmet to fit Honor's unique head shape. Honor will return to the STAR Cranial Center every two to three weeks for follow up appointments to ensure proper directional head shape growth, and for adjustments to his STARband to accommodate his growth.

"Through word of mouth, I just happened to find out about this condition and this treatment," McManus said. "Now, I tell other moms if something is not right, press your pediatrician to address the issue. It's a challenging situation, but we're going to keep at it. In the end, it will be worth it!"

Because STAR Cranial Center of Excellence is the only specialized provider in the area, the center works closely with Dr. David Jimenez, a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon with The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio hospital. Dr. Jimenez performs surgeries necessary for addressing craniosynostosis, a more serious condition in which one or more of the sutures in an infant's skull prematurely fuses, and his patients wear cranial remolding helmets for some time following their surgery.

San Antonio mother Breanna Emmitt is one of the moms who told McManus about the STAR Cranial Center of Excellence. Her eight-month-old son David has been wearing a helmet for five months, ever since he had surgery for craniosynostosis when he was three months old.

"The helmet is an opportunity for me to explain what David had and why he had surgery," Emmitt said. "It's an opportunity for me to educate people who don't understand. He's perfect in every single way. It's simple. He had surgery and he wears a helmet now. This is short term. The long-term benefits outweigh any short term hassles."

Dr. Jeffrey Henderson, a San Antonio-area pediatrician and Honor's doctor, encourages parents to ask questions if they are concerned about head shape abnormalities.

"If parents have concerns, they should speak with their pediatrician. But if your pediatrician has concerns, then the people at STAR Cranial Center are available to help," Henderson said. "While deformational plagiocephaly often resolves with repositioning and tummy time, it is reassuring to know that such impressive technology is available for those little heads that don't remodel on their own. If plagiocephaly is not improving by six to nine months of age or if there are complicating factors, then early treatment with cranial remolding helmets can safely improve head shape more efficiently than if intervention is delayed in hopes of spontaneous resolution."

Early recognition of head shape abnormalities is critical for optimal treatment results. Craniosynostosis is far more rare than plagiocephaly, and is oftentimes quickly ruled out by a physician. To treat plagiocephaly, the STARband is simply worn 23 hours per day for an average of three to six months. Treatment for plagiocephaly is most effective if started at four to six months of age. Length of treatment is determined by the infant's age and severity of their head shape. Some physicians believe that lack of treatment for plagiocephaly can lead to developmental delays, visual impairment and misaligned ears, eyes, and jaw.

The STAR Cranial Center of Excellence exclusively uses the STARscanner system, which scans an infant's head shape in less than two seconds. The STARscanner provides detailed reports of measurements and objective head shape data that is helpful for the patient's family, referring physician, and practitioner to review when determining the need for treatment. The STARscanner also documents head shape changes before, during, and after treatment. The Center proudly uses the STARband, the most widely prescribed cranial remolding orthosis by leading practitioners and children's hospitals throughout the world.

About the STAR Cranial Center of Excellence

Located in San Antonio, Texas, the STAR Cranial Center of Excellence specializes in treating infants with plagiocephaly and other head shape abnormalities. The Center offers an unparalleled level of expertise, as well as, the highest quality cranial products and services, such as the STARband cranial remolding orthosis (helmet) and STARscanner system. In addition to this location, there are currently three other STAR Cranial Centers of Excellence locations: Addison (Dallas), Texas; Maitland (Orlando), Florida; Columbia (Baltimore), Maryland. For more information, please call 407.478.7223 or visit www.starcranialcenter.com.

SOURCE STAR Cranial Center of Excellence
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