A device that weighs about as much as a box of tissues is changing the lives of babies.
The lightweight helmet shapes a child’s skull. Luke Colonna, at 7 months old, has been sporting what looks like a half helmet for a month.
It’s officially known as a "Doc band."
“He had a hematoma so he had a little bulge on the side of his head,” explained Luke’s Mom Wendy.
Even after that was resolved, his head not only remained mishapen, it got worse.
“One cheekbone was anterior to the other cheekbone and his eye sockets were also out of alignment along with his ears,” said Dr. Todd Giombetti.
Left untreated Luke could have had vision problems and jaw pain. His parents took action in New Jersey with the help of Dr. Giombetti. They’re already seeing a difference after four weeks.
“His forehead is starting to come up so they’re making it completely round now,” said Wendy.
The cost of the Doc band plus weekly visits is about $4,000 and is not covered by insurance. While Luke’s situation was considered severe, many more babies are developing flat heads because of all the time they spend on their backs to prevent SIDS.
Giombetti says there’s a new mantra to keep in mind.
“The new phrase is back to sleep and front to play. So we sleep on our backs and play on our fronts so we do some tummy time,” he advised.
In Portland Dr. Monica Wehby, uses the doc band on young patients at Randall Children’s Hospital.
She’s the medical director of pediatric neurosurgery at the Legacy Emanuel facility.