Positional plagiocephaly, also known as flat head syndrome, is an extremely common condition that affects the shape of a baby’s skull. While it isn’t generally harmful, it could be a sign of a developmental delay that makes it difficult for your baby to move their head. Keep reading to learn more about what plagiocephaly is, how it happens, and how you can prevent it with pediatric physical therapy.

What Is Plagiocephaly?

Plagiocephaly is a condition where a baby’s skull develops a flat spot. It comes from the Greek words plagios meaning “slanting” and kephalē meaning “head.” Positional plagiocephaly happens when a baby spends too much time on their back or one side without moving. Babies’ skulls are soft to allow them to move through the birth canal, so too much pressure in the same spot on their head can flatten the skull. While this won’t impact their brain or development, it can be very noticeable and cause your child to feel self-conscious as they get older.

Signs and Symptoms of Plagiocephaly

Plagiocephaly can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Flat spot on the head
  • Uneven ear positions
  • Limited neck movement
  • Bald spots
  • Asymmetrical face structure

How Is Plagiocephaly Generally Treated?

Typically, plagiocephaly is treated by having the child wear a custom helmet that helps reshape their skull. This treatment encourages more symmetrical growth and alleviates pressure on the flattened area. Additionally, physical therapy may be necessary to address any underlying muscle weakness or conditions like torticollis, which can lead to plagiocephaly.

What Happens if Plagiocephaly Isn’t Treated?

Positional plagiocephaly shouldn’t negatively affect your child’s development or overall health. However, there are other types of plagiocephaly that can lead to serious health and development struggles. That’s why it’s important to attend your child’s regular checkups with their pediatrician and mention any concerns you have about their head shape.

How Can I Prevent Plagiocephaly in My Child?

There are several things you can do at home to reduce your child’s risk of developing positional plagiocephaly:

  • Occasionally reposition baby’s head while they’re sleeping
  • Give them plenty of daily tummy time to build gross motor skills
  • Hold baby in different positions to reduce pressure on their head
  • Don’t rely too much on infant carriers, seats, swings, etc.

How Physical Therapy Helps with Plagiocephaly

At Building Futures, our pediatric physical therapists use proven, play-based therapy techniques to enhance gross motor skills, such as strength, balance, and coordination. By building your child’s neck, shoulder, back, and core strength, we help them gain better control over their head. This gives them the power to move their head and reduces the risk of positional plagiocephaly. We use fun exercises, stretches, and other activities to help children build their gross motor skills so they can move with confidence and achieve their developmental milestones.

Free Developmental Screening

If you’re concerned about your child’s development, you can take advantage of our free online developmental screening. This tool is a convenient way for parents to know with certainty if your child is achieving their developmental milestones or if they need extra support to achieve their brightest future.

Take our free developmental screening

Contact Us Now To Schedule An Appointment!

Contact Us Form