Carter Schlink has a twin sister, Breah. As babies, they were alike in many ways — both incredibly cute, similar button noses and fair complexion. When the twins were 2 months old, Carter's dad, Kyle, noticed something about his son that was different — his head shape.
It was flatter on the back and a little bit uneven.
Kyle mentioned his observation to the babies' doctor, who recommended the Schlinks try to keep Carter off of the back of his head for a few months to see if it would improve his head shape. During the day, Kyle and his wife, Holly, tried carrying Carter or toting him in a baby sling. During the night and naptime, they used a sleep positioner to ensure he slept on his side. These measures had no noticeable effect on Carter's head shape, so the couple consulted a specialist at Mayo Clinic.
Sherilyn Driscoll, M.D., a specialist in pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation, diagnosed Carter with brachycephaly and mild head shape asymmetry (positional plagiocephaly). She referred the family to the Mayo Clinic Occupational Therapy Department for treatment with an orthotic device (helmet) to try to correct Carter's head shape.
Carter's head was measured from various angles with the new three-dimensional laser scanner. The measurements were sent to the orthotics manufacturer to create a device to fit Carter's head precisely — fitting snugly around most of his head and roomy where his head needed to fill out.
The Schlinks returned to Mayo Clinic two weeks later to receive Carter's orthotic device. After the initial fitting, they returned one week later, then every two weeks throughout treatment for adjustments. Carter's head was scanned monthly to assess his growth and progress. The scan also provided information for proper adjustment of the remolding device.
"It took Carter about a week to get used to the device," says Holly. "He liked to play with the Velcro strap on the side. I was concerned that he wouldn't sleep well wearing the device, but he slept better than his sister did. He's very happy and tolerates just about anything."
Carter successfully completed treatment in three months.
"We never questioned whether or not we would take this treatment route for Carter," says Holly. "We didn't want him to look different. We only wish we had known earlier about corrective and preventive measures parents can take. We might have been able to prevent the condition. We're very glad we sought this treatment for Carter. The staff at Mayo Clinic is great with babies, and the laser scanner made the ongoing measurements stress-free — for the baby and the parents!"