Articles in Posture

Flat Head Syndrome – Plagiocephaly part 1

Since April I have been working closely with Martin Bell from Technology in Motion. Martin has a regular clinic at The Berkeley Centre where he assesses and treats babies with plagiocephaly using helmets to correct the asymmetry. I thought I would take this opportunity to share the things I’ve learnt over the past few months. In this first post I’ll talk a little about the different types of head shapes we see in young babies.

What is plagiocephaly?

Plagiocephaly refers to a diagonal asymmetry of the head. This means that when viewed from above, the head takes the shape of a parallelogram with the ear and forehead on the flattened side being pushed forwards (as in the picture below). Most cases are termed positional plagiocephaly, hinting at the origin of the flattening being the position the baby spends most time in.

Brachycephaly is a central flattening of the back of the head, causing the head to become wider side to side and shorter from front to back. The average person’s head is approximately 80% as wide as it is long. Severe brachycephaly may result in a head that is wider than it is long.

In practice, many babies we see have a combination of both plagio- and brachycephaly. All of our practitioners at The Courtyard Osteopaths have been trained in accurately measuring babies’ heads in order to diagnose the type and severity of the asymmetry.

Will this affect the way my baby’s brain develops?

Plagiocephaly and brachycephaly both involve shape changes in response to external forces, but the overall volume of the skull remains normal, meaning the brain still has plenty of room to develop normally. Some scientific studies have hinted at problems in later life such as visual disturbances or a higher occurrence of ear infections, but the majority of research suggests that the only effect is cosmetic.

A much rarer form of head shape deformity is caused when one or more of the sutures (joints) in the skull is fused, known as craniosynostosis. This is a more serious condition as it may affect brain development and often requires surgery to correct. It is usually picked up in the hospital straight after birth, so we see very few babies with this.

What other effects might plagiocephaly have?

From an osteopath’s point of view, we often find that babies start to form a flat spot on one side because of underlying muscle tension on one side of their neck. This may have been caused by the position they were in in the womb, a traumatic birth, or something that has occurred since. The muscle tension means that the baby prefers to turn his or her head one way and therefore spends more time with pressure on that side of the head. Once a flat spot forms, baby’s head is forced to rest on that side, maintaining and exacerbating the neck tension.

Babies can be in some discomfort from the tight muscles (you all know what a pain in the neck feels like!). In addition to this, many of the muscles in the neck are linked to the jaw; an imbalance in jaw position may contribute to feeding problems and digestive difficulties such as trapped wind and constipation.

There is much that we as therapists can do to help release this tension, including stretches that can be taught for parents to do at home.

I’ll talk more in part two about what can be done to prevent a flat spot from forming, as well as what to do if your baby does have plagio- or brachycephaly.

- Sam

Posture tips for mums … part 3

Posture tips for mums … part 3

- Off the floor: stand close to your child and, keeping your back straight, drop into a one-leg kneel. Grasp your child with both arms and hold him or her close to your body. Tighten your tummy muscles (pull your belly button towards your spine) and slowly lift using your legs. Reverse this when putting your child onto the floor Read more >>

Laptop and Computer Ergonomics

Here’s a little cartoon to help us sit properly at the computer


10 September 2013

Posture tips for mums… part 2

Posture tips for mums… part 2

- Try not to slouch or ‘collapse’ your spine, keep your back and neck straight and shoulders pulled back
- Always hold your child close to your body
- Try to carry your child in the centre of your body Read more >>

Slings and Carriers for Babies

Slings and Carriers for Babies

There’s a fair bit of conflicting information about these around so i’ll try and put the important points down here, if you have any specific questions, do feel free to contact us us. Read more >>

Posture tips for mums… part 1

Posture tips for mums… part 1

There is a lot to consider here as there are so many activities for new and seasoned mums to consider, Therefore I will be rolling this information out over the next few weeks Read more >>

Tips For Digging

HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS – It’s National Allotments Week!

So get out there and get digging – but carefully!

Those of you who have an allotment (and I count myself lucky to be among those) will know the joy it can bring, but also the amount of hard work. Those of you without can still enjoy fresh veg and salad from your own gardens – or even lettuce from a window box if no other outdoor space is available. Read more >>

Holiday Luggage

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Holiday season is close and with that comes lugging heavy loads around with us! Try and remember to look after your body when moving and lifting luggage. It is easy to strain your back, shoulder, neck and other areas when not thinking about what you need to move, where you are moving it and if you can manage it. Here are some simple bits of advice to consider: Read more >>

Good Posture While Revising

Revising with good posture

It’s exam time for a lot of kids at the moment. And with that comes long periods of reading, writing, looking at laptops or computers and lots of stress.

Poor revision posture can lead to issues such as neck, shoulder, wrist and back pain. Read more >>

Repetitive Strain Injury

Repetitive Strain Injury

Repetitive strain injuries are relatively common. They are due to damage to the soft tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments) and/or nerves of our bodies causing symptoms such as pain, stiffness, swelling and decreased mobility. Read more >>