Physical Therapy May Prevent Deformational Plagiocephaly

August 7, 2008

Among infants with positional preference, treatment with physical therapy may reduce the risk of developing severe deformational plagiocephaly, and in infants with deformational plagiocephaly, molding helmet therapy may be a more effective non-surgical intervention than repositioning therapy, according to two studies published in the August issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

THURSDAY, Aug. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Among infants with positional preference, treatment with physical therapy may reduce the risk of developing severe deformational plagiocephaly, and in infants with deformational plagiocephaly, molding helmet therapy may be a more effective non-surgical intervention than repositioning therapy, according to two studies published in the August issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

In one study, Leo A. van Vlimmeren, Ph.D., of Bernhoven Hospital in Veghel, the Netherlands, and colleagues randomly assigned 65 infants with positional preference to receive either pediatric physical therapy or usual care for four months. Compared to usual care, they found that physical therapy reduced the risk of severe deformational plagiocephaly by 46 percent at age 6 months and by 57 percent at age 12 months.

In a second study, James J. Xia, M.D., of The Methodist Hospital Research Institute in Houston, and colleagues conducted a database search of articles published in English between January 1978 and August 2007 and reviewed seven cohort studies that compared non-surgical therapies in the treatment of infants with deformational plagiocephaly. Despite biases favoring the repositioning groups, they found that five of the studies concluded that molding helmet therapy reduces skull asymmetry more effectively than repositioning therapy.

"Future studies should focus on the role of motor development in deformational plagiocephaly," van Vlimmeren and colleagues write. "In addition, the first follow-up assessment in studies of deformational plagiocephaly should be performed before age 6 months to discern possible differences between intervention and control groups regarding positional preference prevalence and motor development."

Abstract - van Vlimmeren Full TextAbstract - Xia Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)

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