Aaron Ronan Riseam was born on the 8th March 2011. It was a normal delivery, but he had been engaged for approximately one month before birth. Immediately after his birth I noticed his head was an odd shape...
Initially, when I mentioned this to the nurses in hospital, I was told that this was normal and would rectify itself. As Aaron started to grow and progress, his head shape worsened.
At every appointment with the midwife and health visitor, I asked them if they thought his head shape was correct. Each time, I was told that it was caused by the way he lies, and advised to re-position his head whilst sleeping and put his toys to the opposite side he favoured. I did this, but it made no difference at all and his head shape was getting worse. I remember looking at other babies’ heads and comparing them to Aaron’s. In my opinion, his head had become severely deformed.
At Aaron’s eight week check at the doctors surgery, he was diagnosed with positional plagiocephaly, with no further action required. At this appointment, I asked the doctor about helmets, as I remembered reading about them years ago. All he said was that they don’t fit them, and advised me to get Aaron’s head checked every three months.
Finally, when Aaron was three and a half months old, I took him to our personal doctor who immediately referred him to a cranial and facial specialist at Hull Royal Hospital. It was only then that people started to listen to what I had been saying all along.
By this stage, his forehead was being pushed forward on one side, his ears were totally miss-aligned, and his head was really flat on the right side.
Immediately after this appointment, I googled the condition and looked for available treatment options. I came across the Steeper Clinic, who’s website was extremely informative, providing information on different types of deformity, and what the treatment entailed. Also it wasn’t too far away, as it was based in Leeds.
It was interesting to read some of the case studies they have on their site. These were about people like us, whose children had the same problem.
I rang first thing on the following Monday and made an appointment for Wednesday morning, the 22nd June 2011, at 9am.
Aaron was three and a half months old. We arrived at the clinic on Wednesday morning and met Kate Chauhan, who immediately put us at our ease. Kate examined Aarons head, discussed the different types of conditions and asked if it was ok to scan his head. We agreed immediately. She then put a white stocking over Aaron’s head to get a better picture together, and placed stickers next to his ears with black dots on to gain alignment figures.
Cephalic Ratio: 0.933
Oblique Diagonal Difference: 21.1
Anterior Ear Shift: 12.1
The results proved what I had been saying all along – Aaron’s head shape was severe. Kate asked us if we wanted to go away and think about the treatment. I said no and asked her to go ahead and order the STARband™ immediately.
We were penciled in for a further appointment two weeks later to collect the STARband™ and discuss wearing and caring for it.
5th July 2011, we arrived at the clinic to be met by Kate who issued us with the STARband™, together with full instructions on how to increase the wearing time of the helmet to 23 hours a day, and also how to clean it.
Aaron was now four months old, and I remember being quite anxious, although I knew he needed the treatment! I had a few questions I needed to ask Kate. First, would this cause brain damage? Absolutely not was the reply. As Aaron was such a laid back and happy baby, I also wanted to know whether treatment could change his personality. Again, Kate reassured me it wouldn’t. Finally, would it stunt his hair growth? I was told that whilst it might be slower than normal, natural growth would resume once the STARband™ was removed.
Once home, we started the ramp up to wearing the helmet for 23 hours a day. I was scared at first, and wondered whether I was fitting it right in order to get the correct head shape. Was I hurting my child, and would this actually work? I needn’t have worried – you can’t fit it wrongly, it’s molded to your baby’s head. It doesn’t hurt your child, and this treatment absolutely works!
It took about five to seven days before Aaron was wearing the helmet for 23 hours a day. It didn’t bother him at all, he played, smiled and did everything any other little boy his age would do. The other benefit to the helmet was the added protection it gave to Aaron’s head, an added advantage.
We were monitored every two weeks initially then every three weeks. Kate was absolutely brilliant, the level of support we received was second to none. Nothing was too much trouble and she was there with help and advice every step of the way.
Aaron with Kate, Clinical Specialist Orthotist
After just seven weeks of wearing the helmet, his statistics were as follows:
Cephalic Ratio: 0.895
Oblique Diagonal Difference: 10.3
Anterior Ear Shift: 9.6
I couldn’t believe the difference in head shape from when we first went to the clinic. The results were amazing!
Aaron still needed to wear the STARband™ for a further 12 weeks and on the 15th November 2011, we eventually said goodbye to Kate and the clinic, as his head looked perfectly normal.
From start to finish of the treatment, it took 19 weeks to rectify his head shape. Results are better and quicker the younger the baby as they grow so quickly. It takes longer with older children and treatment is only available to babies up to 18 months old.
I am so pleased that we opted for this treatment, and strongly recommend anyone in the same position as ourselves to at least consider it.
This has made a huge difference to Aaron’s facial appearance. I would also strongly recommend the Steeped Clinic after my experience with them, and the support and guidance these professionals give. They genuinely care about the babies and children they treat. I am just an ordinary mum who noticed a problem with her baby’s head shape. These people listened when no-one else would.
Now the helmet has been removed, I can’t help but to keep stroking his head and looking at how round and perfect it is.