Flat head syndrome – what is it?

The term Flat Head Syndrome is another term for Plagiocephaly. Plagiocephaly is a blanket word for covering three different types of flattening on a child’s head.

Align Clinics, Cardiff UK

by Lisa Williams, Align Clinics March  29, 2015

All three terms describe the flattening on different areas of a child’s head. Brachycephaly and Plagiocephaly are the most common, however, it is not uncommon for a child to have both Plagiocephaly and Brachycephaly together.

The three different types are:

  • Plagiocephaly (Play-gee-o-kef-a-lee)
  • Brachycephaly (Bray-key-kef-a-lee)
  • Scaphycephaly (Scay-fee-kef-a-lee)

Plagiocephaly describes the flattening on one side on the child’s head. This type of flattening is commonly associated with a parallelogram shaped head, a shift forward of the ear and a more prominent forehead on the same side as the flattening and possibly the eyes appearing to have unequal positioning.

a href=”https://www.braceworks.ca/tag/brachycephaly/” rel=”noopener”>Brachycephaly

Brachycephaly describes a flattening across the back of a child’s head. This type of flattening is commonly associated with a loss of definition of the neck line, a wide head shape, prominent bony lumps above the ears, a bossed / protruding forehead and possibly an excessively high height of head.


Scaphycephaly is the rarest of the three. It describes a flattening on both sides of a child’s head, giving the overall impression of a long narrow head shape and is associated with an overly exaggerated neck line.

The flattening occurs due to an external force exerted onto the child’s head for a prolonged period of time. Due to the soft, malleable, mobile characteristics a child’s skull has, the external force, when left in contact for a length of time can cause a flattening in the corresponding area.

Statistics show that in 1992 the incidence of Plagiocephaly was approximately 1 in 300, compared with 1999 where the incidence had increased to approximately 1 in 60 children. Therefore, in the United Kingdom in 2009, there were 706,248 babies born, of which in line with the statistics, 11,770 babies born in 2009 had a form of deformational plagiocephaly.

Early detection and diagnosis plays a vital role in the management and treatment of Plagiocephaly. It is crucial to understand and recognise the factors influencing the flattening so to be able to reduce them to slow down and hopefully halt the progression of Plagiocephaly.

  • If your child is less than four months old, Align Clinics recommends a free assessment with our specialist in order to measure and record the head shape at present. Our highly trained Clinicians will discuss and advise all repositioning techniques including an increase in tummy time. As specific measurements would have been taken, further assessments are recommended monthly to record your child’s growth and degree of Plagiocephaly over time, so any increase or decrease can be objectively recorded, and if needed further treatment can commence at the earliest and most effective time.
  • If an improvement hasn’t been observed by the time the child is 5 months old, Align Clinics recommends the parents or guardians to consider STARband treatment.
  • If your child is 4 months old or older, Align Clinics recommends a free consultation to observe and measure the degree of Plagiocephaly and advise on the best course of treatment for your child from these results.
  • If your child has been diagnosed with Torticollis (tightening of the neck muscles, limiting movement), Align Clinics recommends that you follow your Physiotherapists instructions with regards to passive and active exercises to lengthen the affected muscle and improve the range of movement in the neck, again to limit the progression of the Plagiocephaly. (If you have not had an appointment with your Physiotherapist, please contact Align Clinics who will be able to advise you further).
You can find more information regarding Flat Head Syndrome, Plagiocephaly, Brachycephaly, respositioning techniques and STARband treatment from the Alignclinics FAQ’s page or by phoning on 029 21 401500 or visit Align Clinics web site.
Align Clinics Cardiff is a professional, friendly, understanding clinic situated within the Cardiff, South Wales and offers a free consultation with a Clinical Specialist who has wide range of skills and experience within this field.

Source Align Clinics Cardiff

Also see
Flat Head Syndrome Treatment Align Clinics Cardiff
Head Align: Frequently Asked Questions Align Clinics Cardiff

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