Deformational plagiocephaly, a malformation of the cranium that afflicts as many as 13% of healthy babies, shows up in chiropractic offices particularly often. The medical standard of care for plagiocephaly remains a thoroughly debunked therapy known as an orthotic helmet, which must be worn for 23 hours per day for up to 6 months. According to a position paper published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2011, the use of orthotic helmets improve cranial measurements by a scant 25% compared to 22% babies who had no treatment; in sum, helmets do nothing at best short of draining your bank account by up to $5000. It amazes me that as a chiropractor, I’m frequently indicted for utilizing “therapies” that lack an evidence basis when in reality, expert chiropractic care used in conjunction with craniosacral therapy is a particular potent treatment for the cause of plagiocephaly: acynclitism.
Most parents who bring their infant to the doctor after noticing cranial asymmetries will notice an accompanying head tilt, known as torticollis. While also frequently observed after birth, particularly a traumatic one involving instrumentation or augmentation, torticollis is far from ok. It is predictive of latching difficulties, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, vestibulo-ocular reflex dysfunction, vertebral subluxation and related clinical sequelae. An infant’s number one priority in the first 3 months of life is to “right” himself by symmetrically extending his neck while on his tummy thereby establishing a level gaze on the horizon; if he or she cannot perform this task, he or she will delay cognitive and neurological development. Pediatric chiropractors are well-trained to identify the signs of plagiocephaly and torticollis and take steps to fix it for good.
Little Wilder presented to the office at approximately 2.5 months of age with a significantly misshapen head and torticollis. In conjunction with his aesthetic asymmetries, Wilder also exhibited significant difficulty latching to mom’s breast. In these cases, babies tend to exhibit what is termed poor “coupled motion” in their necks, which means simply that they have difficulty turning their heads in the same direction as the torticollis. As a result, latching to that side becomes labor intensive and is typically shallow if it occurs at all. Wilder required several intensive weeks of craniosacral and chiropractic care before he began to clear. Within 48 hours after his first clear check up, he was able to latch effortlessly. Within 6 weeks, his torticollis and cranial asymmetry were completely gone.
Dr Daniel Bronstein is the clinic director of Beacon Chiropractic in Grover Beach CA and specializes in the chiropractic care of children and pregnant mommas. He is Webster Technique Certified by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and devotes the core of practice to helping children and families live healthy lives.
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