Outcome analysis of molding helmet therapy using a classification for differentiation between plagiocephaly, brachycephaly and combination of both.


Department of Anesthesiology, Hannover Medical School, Germany. Electronic address: [Email]


OBJECTIVE : The incidence of positional head deformation has increased during the last decades. Helmet therapy has been proved to be a reliable method for the treatment of nonsynostotic skull deformities. Until today, a simple classification to differentiate between different head shapes has not been established.
METHODS : We suggest a classification system to group patients with plagiocephaly, brachycephaly, and a combination of both, using two simple values: cranial vault asymmetry (CVA), and cephalic index (CI). We further analyzed a study population of 1050 children treated with molding helmets to identify prognostic variables for better outcome within our proposed classification.
RESULTS : In all, 736 patients were male (70.10%) and 314 patients were female (29.90%). Mean improvement of cranial vault asymmetry index (CVAI) ranged from 2.94% to 7.08% (CVA 0.37 cm-0.86 cm) in subgroups of patients defined by classification and severity of deformation. In patients with brachycephaly, CI improved from 4.17% to 8.22%. Duration of therapy differed from 21 weeks to 24 weeks. Children aged 6 months or less showed greater improvement and shorter duration of therapy compared to older patients. In addition to early onset of therapy, classification and severity of deformation were significantly associated with a reduction of the deformation under therapy. There were distinct differences in outcomes between different head shapes.
CONCLUSIONS : Helmet therapy should be initiated early. Our analysis suggests that the proposed classification correctly identifies patients whose deformation is reduced under therapy.


Brachycephaly,Molding helmet,Molding orthosis,Plagiocephaly,