SO, just what is Plagiocephaly? Does your child have an unusual shape head? Does it seemed depressed at one side or flattened at the back? Is there a protruding bump on the head? Is the neck twisted and does your baby look a lot to one side?
I have decided to write this article as many of the children I see at my craniosacral therapy clinic have this appearance. Their parents are concerned when they notice these asymmetries and find it hard to know what to do.
The causes of Plagiocephaly vary: babies who are constantly placed on their back to sleep, babies who get stuck in one position in the womb (positional entrapment in utero), the use of forceps and vacuum during the birth or babies who have gone through long, heavy labours.
This moulding pressure experienced by the baby places an excessive pull, or tension pattern, on the bones - especially the soft tissue. This results in the bones being pushed up and over each other causing the visible bumps and depressions. In normal labour the bones are able to slide over each other to fit in the birth canal and after birth slide back into position.
The problem arises when excessive pressure is experienced by the baby causing the bones to get stuck. These areas are tender to touch as the sutures (where bones touch) have their own nerve supply.
The good news is that craniosacral therapy has shown to be effective in resolving misshaped heads or Plagiocephaly. Craniosacral therapy, or CST, helps restore symmetry by helping the bones to glide back to the correct position.
How Craniosacral Therapy Works.
CST is a gentle touch (pressure is about 5grams or the weight of 5cent coin) method of releasing tension along the spine and beneath the head bones. Releasing these pulls or tension patterns in the tissue allows the head and spine bones to move into their correct positions.
When the bones are in the correct position the head has a more even shape and most importantly, the brain has more space to grow. When working with Plagiocephaly or misshapen heads one often finds that the baby also as a twist in the neck or Torticollis. This accompanying twist is also resolved as the neck bones and skull aligns correctly with the help of Craniosacral therapy.
Why It Is Important To Act Now!
Many parents concerns regarding uneven head shapes are dismissed. They are told that the child will grow out of the condition - or that when the hair grows it won’t be noticeable.
It is understandable that parents are most often concerned with the cosmetic appearance of the child’s head - and so hearing this advice may do nothing to rectify the problem.
But flat heads and uneven eyes and ears, as the child grows, show potential for more serious underlying problems. These problems include headaches, back pain, scoliosis (twist in spine), T.M.J. (jaw pain), visual disorders, and sensory motor and sensory processing dysfunction.
How Craniosacral Therapy Treats Misshapen Heads.
To understand how CST is effective in treating this condition we need to look at the connection between bone and tissue in the body. In my clinic I explain it as follows to the child’s parents.
Soft tissue consists of the muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissue. This connective forms the lining of the skull, the intracranial membranes (horizontal and vertical tissue which divides the brain). It also covers the spinal cord. This soft tissue can become a "trouble maker" as it can pull, move and mould the bones.
So, if there is a tension pull in the soft tissue the result is a misshapen skull or a twist in the neck. Many find it amazing that the bones are at the mercy of the soft tissue and can be pulled out of shape. In a CST treatment we work to remove this strain pattern and allow the body to release the pull.
On the surface this results in a better shaped head - but as I mentioned earlier other underlying systems are also enhanced and children show greatly improved feeding, sleeping, and sensory and neuromotor development.