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STAR Cranial Centers of Excellence Offer Cutting-Edge Treatment to Dallas Area Children

Two Metroplex locations offer revolutionary STARscanner, STARband(R)

cranial helmets

DALLAS, April 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Mother Claudia Aguilar had been concerned about the bumps on her son Christian's head since he was born. Doctors had to utilize forceps to aid in Christian's birth, resulting in a misshapen skull. Aguilar's pediatrician told her the bumps might go away without intervention. But at Christian's six month checkup, the bumps were still present, and Christian also was showing signs of plagiocephaly, or flattening of the skull, and one of his eyes appeared to be turning to the side. Aguilar was referred to the Dallas STAR Cranial Center of Excellence at Children's Medical Center where cranial specialists evaluated Christian and fit him with a STARband cranial remolding helmet.

Christian's situation would be daunting to parents in any circumstance, but for Aguilar, who lives in Carrollton, it was especially challenging. Aguilar is legally blind. Dependant on public transportation to take her son to and from medical appointments and facing healthcare funding challenges because her children are on Medicaid, Aguilar was worried that her limited vision would cause added strain in an already unusual situation.

"When we first got the appointment to be fitted with the helmet, I was thinking 'this isn't going to work'," she said. "I was worried that he was going to have irritation from the helmet and that I would not be able to see that. And I was worried that he would be crying and wanting to take the helmet off."

Dwain Faso, CO, first evaluated Christian at six months of age and fit him with a STARband cranial helmet, which was custom-made specifically for Christian's unique head shape.

Treatment for plagiocephaly is most effective if begun at four to six months of age, as minimal head shape correction is possible beyond 18 months of age. Some physicians believe that lack of treatment can lead to developmental delays, visual impairment and misaligned ears, eyes, and jaw.

"Cranial remolding helmets are worn by children for 23 hours per day anywhere from three to six months," Faso said. "The helmet provides gentle, continuous pressure on protruding areas of the head, while room for growth is available for depressed areas of the skull. The device is modified every few weeks to allow for growth and changes in head shape."

Aguilar explained that all of the challenges associated with this treatment were worth it.

"People told me to wait it out because they thought Christian's head would grow and change," she said. "But I knew I needed to do something different for him...I wanted to do the best I could for him. If we can use our credit cards and spend our money to pay for big screen televisions, why wouldn't you pay for something like this that can help your child? So many people thought the helmet was so cute. I was not embarrassed."

Aguilar pointed out that the helmet had an unexpected benefit for her, too.

"He was 11 months old when he got the helmet and was trying to walk. He fell a lot during that time, and I am sure the helmet protected him from a lot of falls. I cannot see him easily, so I have to develop my ear to know what he is doing. I could hear that helmet hitting everywhere. I am sure that helmet saved him a lot!" she laughed.

After wearing the STARband helmet for about six months and visiting Faso every other week or so for adjustments, Christian's plagiocephaly has improved dramatically and the skull impressions from forceps delivery has decreased more than expected.

"To other parents who are going through this...we should be proud that we are doing strong things for our babies. They are going to be so much better for us having done this," Aguilar said.

With locations at Children's Medical Center and Medical City Children's Hospital, STAR Cranial Center of Excellence locations use the STARscanner system, a revolutionary, eye-safe, laser system that scans a child's head in under two seconds. Providing detailed measurements, it is faster, cleaner, and more accurate than the former plaster casting technique. The STARscanner is also used to collect head shape data before, during, and after treatment. This allows the patient's family, referring physician, and practitioner to clearly see and document the baby's head shape changes throughout the treatment process.

Christian is one child among many who have benefited from the presence of this technology in the Dallas area.

Michelle Reed of Dallas has twins -- Zoe and JR -- but only Zoe developed complications from cramped womb conditions. Born at 32 weeks, the duo spent almost a month in NICU, and at the twin's two-month checkup Zoe's pediatrician noted that she was developing plagiocephaly. After repositioning Zoe often and encouraging more "tummy time," Reed noted that Zoe's head shape continued to get worse.

Zoe was diagnosed with moderate asymmetry of the head, and was referred to the STAR Cranial Center of Excellence at Medical City Children's Hospital for treatment.

"The process of adjusting and wearing the helmet was surprisingly easier than expected," Reed said. "Zoe did great. After she was out of the helmet, I realize that we did spend a lot of time cleaning the helmet and caring for it, but the results were great and it was worth it. It's such a short period of time, that it's worth the sacrifice."

Nancy Stinson, CPO, evaluated and treated Zoe, who wore a cranial helmet for four-and-a-half months.

"Plagiocephaly can go away without intervention, but it sometimes does not," Stinson said. "In Zoe's case, her prematurity and intrauterine positioning made it impossible to correct without assistance from a STARband cranial helmet."

Alan McFatridge of Corinth also has twins -- Noah and Luke -- and in a situation similar to the Reed's, only one twin developed plagiocephaly.

"Noah is a twin, and at his two month checkup we noticed that his head had a flat spot on it," McFatridge said. "They said we could watch it because the condition could go away, but at the four month visit we were convinced it was not going away."

McFatridge was referred to the STAR Cranial Center of Excellence at Children's Medical Center.

"The first day we were there, they did a scan," McFatridge said. "I was very happy to know that he wouldn't have to have plaster on his head...the scanning process was so fast."

After receiving Noah's helmet, McFatridge said the family saw progress in only a few short weeks.

"We saw such improvement in the first three weeks that it was on," he said. "That really encouraged us to stick it out. I wasn't really concerned about the helmet from my perspective, I was worried about what Noah would think. But he handled it really well. I don't think it ever really bothered him."

McFatridge offered encouragement to parents faced with similar situations.

"The helmet doesn't bother the child," he said. "If you don't do it, you might regret it, but I don't see any way you could regret it if you do put them in a helmet. Do it when they are young. Put your own personal feelings aside and worry about your child. Do what is best for them."

About the STAR Cranial Centers of Excellence

Located in Dallas, Texas with locations at Children's Medical Center and Medical City Children's Hospital, the STAR Cranial Centers of Excellence use the latest technology to provide the highest quality cranial products and services to infants with deformational plagiocephaly. The Center exclusively uses STAR cranial remolding orthoses (helmets), such as the STARband manufactured by Orthomerica(R) Products, Inc. The STAR Cranial Center of Excellence also uses the most advanced technology available-The STARscanner Laser Data Acquisition System. In addition to this location, a newly-opened STAR Cranial Center of Excellence located in Columbia, Maryland. For more information, please call 214.350.8848 or 972.566.7299 or visit .

About the STARband

The STARband is a custom-fabricated cranial remolding orthosis manufactured by Orthomerica Products, Inc. It can be either fabricated from 3-D head shape data, such as a scan from a STARscanner system or by taking a plaster impression. The headband is worn 23 hours a day, channeling head growth by applying constant, gentle contact on protruding areas while leaving room for growth in depressed ones. The interior is modified often to allow for growth. Head shape problems are not life threatening and are correctable if treated by 18 months of age. The STARband is the most prescribed cranial remolding orthosis in the world, with over 50,000 babies benefiting from STARband treatment since 2001.

About the STARscanner

Following diagnosis, treatment formerly began by a plaster casting of the head -- a 15-30 minute messy, and sometimes traumatic, process. Orthomerica's STARscanner uses safe, non-contact laser scanning technology to obtain precise measurements in less than two seconds and captures 3-D head shape data, accurate within 0.5 mm. Treatment is most effective when measurements are accurate and submitted promptly, enabling the helmet to be manufactured and fit in a timely period before the head shape changes further. For more information visit .

SOURCE Orthomerica
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