Plagiocephaly Clinic

Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota offers a Plagiocephaly Clinic at our Minneapolis, St Paul, and Minnetonka locations. The Plagiocephaly Clinic specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of children with abnormalities of the cranial and facial skeleton. Conditions treated include:

  • Abnormal fontanel
  • Abnormal head shape
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Deformational/positional plagiocephaly
  • Facial asymmetry
  • Torticollis
  • Other craniofacial anomalies

What to expect during a Plagiocephaly Clinic evaluation

During a Plagiocephaly Clinic evaluation, your child will be seen by a multi-disciplinary team of specialists. Members of that team include:

  • Craniofacial surgeon
  • Craniofacial pediatric nurse practitioner
  • Physical therapist
  • Certified orthotist

A typical visit includes a full craniofacial history and physical performed by the craniofacial nurse practitioner, an evaluation by a pediatric physical therapist, and cranial measurements by a certified orthotist. If treatment with a cranial remolding orthosis is deemed necessary by the team, a scan will be taken the day of clinic by the orthotist. The physical therapist assists families with stretching, positioning and developmental play to correct muscle length, strength, and head position. If the team recommends physical therapy, we will help you establish physical therapy at one of our Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota Rehab locations.


What to bring to a Plagiocephaly Clinic evaluation

  • Recent x-rays, CT or MRI scans
  • Copies of recent medical records from non-Children’s provider, including head circumference charts, if available.

How to schedule an appointment

Appointments for all of our Craniofacial Center clinics may be scheduled by contacting the clinic assistant at (612) 813-6888.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is positional plagiocephaly?
The word plagiocephaly means “oblique head”. One side or the back of the head is flattened. At birth, an infant’s skull is made up of several bones connected by sutures (joints). The sutures help the head pass through the birth canal, and also allow room for the brain to grow. After birth, the quickly growing brain continues to shape the bones of the skull.

Pressures from the outside can also shape the skull. Plagiocephaly is usually positional. It develops when an infant sleeps or rests on one part of the head most of the time. It has become more common because parents are advised to place infants on their backs for sleep to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Extended use of car seats, infant carriers, swings, and bouncers also place infants on their backs for long periods of time and may change head shape.

What is torticollis?
Torticollis is a neck deformity that results when the sternocleidomastoid muscle of the neck is shorter than normal. This causes the head to tilt toward the side of the short muscle, and rotate toward the other side. Sometimes plagiocephaly results from torticollis. All babies with plagiocephaly should be checked for torticollis. It is very important to treat torticollis with physical therapy, as it can cause long-term problems. In some cases, physical therapy alone fails to adequately correct the torticollis and a simple surgical release of the muscle is necessary to help improve normal neck range of motion.

What is Craniosynostosis?
Craniosynostosis is the early growing together (or fusion) of two or more bones of the skull. A newborn’s skull is made up of many separate bones that are not yet fused together. Because the brain grows quickly in the first two years of life, it is important that the skull bones remain open. In fact, complete fusion of the bones normally occurs late in the teen years. Craniosynostosis interferes with normal growth of the brain and skull.

What does treatment with a cranial remolding orthosis involve, should my child require a helmet?
If your child should require helmeting therapy, a scan will be taken the day of clinic from which we will fabricate a helmet specifically for your child’s head shape. The helmet will be ready for fitting in about a week. After the initial fitting, you will need to follow up with a certified orthotist every 2 to 3 weeks for additional fittings. Helmet therapy is a 23 out of 24 hour/day treatment. Typically, our patients tolerate this therapy very well and our discharged from their helmets in 3 to 4 months time.


Additional Resources