Finlay was born on 10th February 2013. Finlay had or still has Plagiocephaly, a form of Flat Head Syndrome. It would take us almost five months to learn the name of Finlay’s condition. We experienced a lot of stress and worry, with little support from our Health Care Providers. This is Finlay’s Journey.
Finlay was a little surprise baby, he wasn’t planned and it wasn’t until I was 12 weeks pregnant that I found out I was expecting. I had very few symptoms – I wish I could say this lasted the whole pregnancy! Finlay arrived Finally 11 days overdue weighing in at 8lb 15ozs by emergency C – Section.
I never got to experience Labour as my waters broke on Friday 8th February and I still wasn’t contracting on the Sunday Morning. At this stage was advised that I should be induced to avoid infection as it was nearing 48hrs without any waters. After been examined by the doctor they discovered Finlay was an undiagnosed breech. As my waters had broken they could not turn him, so for safety we elected for an emergency C-Section.
The operation was remarkably straight forward and we were in and out very quickly. I didn’t notice straight away the odd shape to Finlay’s head. Even though I remember the midwives mentioning something when they were cleaning him up, I guess I just forgot. Finlay had the usual paediatric exams. The doctor said he had an unusual head shape due to him being breech. His plates had crossed to the point that his fontanel was closed. However, I wasn’t to worry and his plates would move back into the correct position over the next few weeks. We were sent home with no advice other than it would right itself and not to worry.
After 6 weeks there was still no improvement but the doctors nor the Health Visitors were concerned. Finlay also appeared to be in quite a lot of discomfort in his neck. He would only ever lie with his head to the side and if he tried to move it the opposite direction he became very uncomfortable. He also started to suffer extreme bouts of reflux. We were never offered any referral’s to specialists. The only recommendation was I should pay to see a cranial osteopath for private treatment. They may help with the tightening in his neck (Tortocollis). This this would be at a cost of £32 per session, but naturally we paid.
We booked in for an initial 3 appointments and there was improvement, it helped Finlay’s colic and reflux. His head seemed less pointy on the back, but his facial features were still distorted. The flatness on the right was still quite severe. The advice from my Health Visitor was ‘it didn’t matter and no one is perfect anyway, but most self correct by their 1st birthday‘. I was fuming why would no one take my concerns seriously? There had yet to be significant improvement to the flat spot, would it really self correct? I also wondered – how could we tell if there was improvement if there was no measurements to start with? Under the Health Visitors recommendation we continued with the Cranial osteopath.
We had about 9 appointments in total. When the osteopath stroked Finlay’s head and said his hair would cover ‘that’. I went straight home and googled ‘wonky baby head‘. Finlay was almost 5 months now and I was worried for him. I came across Technology in Motion, an image and the word ‘PLAGIOCEPHALY‘. I emailed them with some pictures. They responded straight away and advised Finlay was suffering from Plagiocephaly (a form of Flathead syndrome) and from the picture it looked to be within the severe section of the scale. At last some answers.
I booked an appointment with the clinic, the initial assessment was free, and they would measure how severe the flatness was. The clinic advised that most people contact them with exactly the same story. However, they advised If a baby starts to shows signs of Flat Head Syndrome, repositioning techniques can be extremely successful within the first 4 months of birth. This is the preferred method of treatment, but this information was rarely given to parents. I’m not sure how effective repositioning would have been on Finlay as his Plagiocephaly was quite severe from the start, but I often wonder if we were given the correct advice, if we would have been here today.
Technology in Motion were really informative and never once pressured us into treatment. In fact they don’t even recommend treatment on milder cases. Finlay was measured, his Plagiocephaly was 19mm which placed him in the severe category. There was no question about treatment even though it cost over £2000. We were just not willing to take the risk of it not righting itself, this was our little boys life, his future.
Two weeks after the assessment Finlay had his helmet fitted. He took to it straight away, there were no issues with him wearing the helmet, even though he had to wear it 23 hours a day. He did get a little sweaty now and then, but it was the middle of summer and on the hottest days we let him have a breather. We were advised to contact the charity Headstart4babies who provide financial assistance to parents on low incomes. We initially paid a £500 deposit to begin treatment, and we had 3 months to find the rest of the money. Luckily Headstart provided us with another £900 and through them we fundraised another £3000 – more than enough to pay the charity back and to add more to the pot for the next family.
Technology in Motion were really attentive at each review. They would examine Finlay and the helmet and adjust it if there was any inclination it was getting to tight. We had fantastic results within the first weeks and Finlay’s Plagiocephaly continued to decrease at every appointment. We were advised that he would most likely be in treatment for 4 months. After almost 4 months, Finlay seemed to be pulling more at the helmet, which was a sign of it being outgrown. Our final appointment confirmed he had in fact outgrown the helmet, slightly early, but in 101 days his Plagiocephaly had reduced to 7mm, his facial asymmetry had practically disappeared and Finlay was discharged from treatment and his helmet journey ended.
Today he is a normal happy 3 year old, he has no lasting issues from his flat head and although I can still see a very slight mishap, you would never know his Plagiocephaly was so severe.