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What Is the Gillette CranioCap® Orthosis?

The Gillette CranioCap® orthosis is a baby helmet that corrects deformational plagiocephaly (also known as flat head syndrome). Plagiocephaly is a condition in which a baby’s head has an uneven or irregular shape caused by external forces.

Because the head might naturally rest on a slightly flattened area, positional plagiocephaly can worsen if untreated. Sometimes plagiocephaly corrects itself; however, it’s difficult to predict which infants will have plagiocephaly that corrects without treatment. At Gillette Children’s, you’ll get help determining whether or not a Gillette CranioCap® orthosis is an appropriate treatment for your child.


Who Benefits from the Gillette CranioCap® Orthosis?

The best time for infants to begin wearing the Gillette CranioCap® orthosis is when they are 4 to 6 months old. After a baby is 12 months old, an infant helmet is less likely to change the shape of the head because most of the brain’s growth occurs during the first 13 months of life.

More than half of babies who have plagiocephaly also have a condition called torticollis. Gillette will help you coordinate additional services needed to treat associated conditions, such as physical therapy to treat torticollis.


What to Expect During a Fitting

Before your baby begins wearing a Gillette CranioCap® orthosis, they need an evaluation by a craniofacial specialist. An evaluation at Gillette takes 45 minutes to an hour. The process includes:

  • Special laser technology (not an x-ray) that scans your child’s head to create a 3-D model on a computer. The laser scan doesn’t take long, but your infant’s head should be as still as possible. Your child may sit on your lap.
  • Based on the model, our Orthotics, Prosthetics and Seating staff creates a lightweight Gillette CranioCap® orthosis. The Gillette CranioCap® orthosis is custom-fit to your baby’s unique head shape. The orthosis is close fitting in some areas and is open in others.
  • A fitting for the orthosis typically takes place two weeks after the laser scan.
Gillette patient Marlowe gets measured and examined by orthotic specialists

A custom Gillette CranioCap® orthosis has a close fit in some areas and is open in others. As a child’s brain grows, the skull grows and slowly forms into the open areas of the orthosis, rounding the head over time. It generally takes two to four months for this process to occur.


How the Gillette CranioCap® Orthosis Helps

As your baby’s brain grows, the skull is slowly molded into the open areas of the Gillette CranioCap® orthosis, rounding the head over time. It generally takes two to three months for this process to occur.

Once treatment begins, your child sees an orthotist one week after the initial fitting and every two weeks for evaluation and adjustments. Follow-up appointments can take place at our St. Paul, Burnsville or Maple Grove clinic locations, in addition to outreach sites throughout greater Minnesota. This includes our locations in Mankato, Duluth, Brainerd/Baxter, Bemidji, and Willmar

It’s important to continually monitor and adjust the Gillette CranioCap® orthosis during the treatment process. Depending on the progress of the correction and the fit of the orthosis, we’ll adjust the Gillette CranioCap® orthosis as needed. If the orthosis needs adjustment, we remove the orthosis, heat it and reshape it to accommodate new growth.

Your child gradually works up to wearing the orthosis 23 hours a day to achieve the best possible results.


Medical Insurance and Billing Questions

At Gillette, the cost of an orthosis and weekly to biweekly management is part of a single charge. Insurance plans usually cover the services.

When you see a provider at one of our locations, your visit will show up on your bill as an “outpatient hospital facilities” appointment, rather than an “outpatient clinic” appointment. Insurance providers treat outpatient hospital facilities differently from outpatient clinics. You might have to make a larger copayment, pay a larger amount as a deductible, or pay a larger percentage of the cost of care than you would at a clinic that isn’t affiliated with a hospital. Be sure to ask your insurance provider or a Gillette financial specialist if this will affect you.

Check with your insurance carrier regarding coverage. If you have difficulty obtaining coverage for a Gillette CranioCap® orthosis or meeting obligations for copayments, Gillette has financing options available.


Integrated Care

Gillette was one of the nation’s first hospitals to develop a custom orthosis to correct flat head syndrome. Our Gillette CranioCap® orthosis was the nation’s first orthosis approved by the Food and Drug Administration for deformational plagiocephaly, so our specialists have extensive knowledge of the treatment.

As part of your comprehensive plagiocephaly treatment plan, your family might work with specialists in: