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Active Counterpositioning or Orthotic Device to Treat Positional Plagiocephaly?

Loveday, Benjamin P. T. BHB*; de Chalain, Tristan B. MD, FRACS (Plast)

Journal of Craniofacial Surgery: July 2001 - Volume 12 - Issue 4 - p 308-313
Original Article

Active counterpositioning and orthotic helmets are the two main nonsurgical management options for positional plagiocephaly. The purpose of this study was to compare these two management regimens. We included a random sample of infants referred between January 1, 1998 and October 31, 1999 to Middlemore Hospital and Auckland Surgical Center, for management of positional plagiocephaly. Two-dimensional head tracings were taken for each infant, every 3 to 12 months. From these tracings, we obtained Cranial Index and Cranial Vault Asymmetry Index. Seventy-nine infants were assessed during an average of 48.2 weeks. Five infants had normal head tracings, and were therefore excluded from the study. Of the 74 infants included in this study, 45 were managed with active counterpositioning, and 29 with orthotic helmets. Average management time for active counterpositioning was 63.7 weeks, and 21.9 weeks for orthotic helmet treatment. For infants managed with active counterpositioning, the average change in Cranial Vault Asymmetry Index was 1.9%. In the orthotic group, average change in Cranial Vault Asymmetry Index was 1.8%. Orthotic helmets have an outcome comparable to that of active counterpositioning, although the management period is approximately three times shorter. Active counterpositioning generally had a slightly better outcome than orthotic management after the management period.

Auckland, New Zealand

From the *School of Medicine, University of Auckland, and the Department of Plastic Surgery, Middlemore Hospital, Otahuhu, Auckland, New Zealand.

Financial support was provided by South Auckland Health.

Address correspondence to Dr Loveday, 54 Seafield View Road, Grafton, Auckland, New Zealand. E-mail:

© 2001 Mutaz B. Habal, MD