What is Plagiocephaly
Plagiocephaly is a very common condition that goes mostly untreated, yet has profound effects on a child's ability to have optimal cognitive and motor development. It is common for newborns to initially have some cranial deformations that are sustained during the delivery process, but these deformations should self-resolve within 24 hours of delivery. Any persistence in these mis-shapen heads is a sign of significant cranial tension. Dr. Cherie has trained with chiropractic's leading craniopaths to learn techniques that help to normalize this cranial stress.
Click here to learn more about the importance of cranial adjustments.)
Below, we see a perfectly symmetrical cranium followed by a series of asymmetrical presentations. These asymmetrical stress patterns are called plagiocephaly. Sometimes these deformations are caused by fusion of the different cranial bones, and are very difficult to treat outside of the first few weeks of life. In other cases there is no boney fusion. These deformations without fusions are called non-synostotic deformational plagiocephaly (NSDP), and are easier to treat with gentle, yet highly specific cranial adjustments.
Scientific studies have shown that children with NSPD comprise a high risk group for developmental difficulties. (Miller and Clarren, Pediatrics 2000;105: e72)
1 SYMMETRICAL CRANIUM
Note the parallel alignment of the eyes, ears, and upper jaw. Also note the symmetry in eye shape and size. The babies nostril size is the same on each side. Parents can also use a pinky finger to check for symmetry in the roof of the mouth, or hard palate.
2 EXTENSION STRAIN
Here we see a common presentation where the skull is taller from top to bottom, and narrower when you look at the top of the skull.
A FLEXION STRAIN (not pictured) is the opposite of the extension strain in that the skull is shorter from top to bottom and wider when viewed from above.
3 ANTERIOR-POSTERIOR STRAIN
This is a bit more complex in that we see a shift in ear position, eye size, nostril size, and lower jaw position when viewed from the front. When viewed from above we see a shear stress in the skull with one side moving forward and the opposite side moving backward.
4 LATERAL STRAIN
This deviation creates an upper cranium that moves in one direction and an jaw that moves in the opposite direction. This creates a significant amount of stess in the TMJ (tempero-mandibular joint), as well as the entire cranial vault.
5 LEFT SIDE-BEND
This can also be a right side bend and is essentially the bent -head syndrome that is very common. Here we see the upper and lower cranium bending to the same side with an implosion of the ear and temporal bone on that side. Again, this creates an enormous amount of stress in the cranium and central nervous system.
Artwork courtesy of Pregnancy and Pediatrics by Stephen P. Williams D.C., F.C.C.(paed), F.C.C.(cranio).