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Craniofacial Program

Molding helmets

What is a Molding Helmet?

A molding helmet is just what it sounds. It is a helmet similar to that worn in sports or bicycling that allows for controlled molding of the skull. The orthotist will carefully measure the shape of your child's head and construct a plastic helmet. This helmet is custom fitted to the shape of the head and is designed to do two things. Firstly, it will act as a protective cushion to prevent undue pressure on one side of the head and allow for better distribution of the pressure along the bones of the skull. Secondly, the helmet is fitted in such a way as to allow for the bones of the skull to expand in the flat areas in response to the underlying growth of the brain.

The molding helmet that we use is designed for PWS patients with moderate to severe skull asymmetry. Typically, the baby will wear the helmet for 4 to 6 months or until the baby is 12 months old, for 23 hours of the day depending on how quickly your baby's head remolds. Because your baby's head grows rapidly in the first year of life, the helmet will require adjustments every 3 to 4 weeks.

How is the Helmet Made?

We will do our best to try to have the helmet measured at the time of the clinic visit but this is not always possible. Please be patient with us.

  • Measurements of your child's head will be made with a cloth measuring tape and pair of calipers
  • A plaster of Paris casting of your child's head shape will be made. This takes about 20 minutes
  • A return visit will be booked 2 to 3 weeks later to have the helmet fitted
  • You will be instructed as to the proper use and care of the helmet on the day that your child is fitted with the helmet. An instruction sheet will be given to you

How Much Will This Cost?

The cost of manufacturing the molding helmet is approximately $2000.00 (subject to change). At this time, OHIP does not cover any of this cost. However, most extended health insurance companies will cover some or all of the cost depending on your coverage. Insurance letters are available to assist you in this purpose. The Centre for Orthotics & Medical Devices at Sick Kids fits, manufactures, and sells custom molding helmets on site.  Total payment for this device is expected at the time of fitting. 

Where to Obtain a Custom Helmet?

You can obtain a helmet at the Centre for Orthotics & Medical Devices located at Sick Kids.  Please Contact the Centre for more information or to set up an appointment.

Is the Molding Helmet Harmful?

The simple answer is no. But, it is important to follow the instructions. Most children do not like to wear anything on their heads and it will take1 to 2 weeks for your child to adjust. Wearing the helmet may cause perspiration. It is important to keep your child's head and hair clean. You should wash your child's hair every day. The inside of the helmet should be washed with mild soap and water to control the growth of skin bacteria and fungus. You should inspect your baby's skin to look for red spots that indicate pressure points. The molding helmet will not affect brain development in any way.

When is the Best Time to Use the Helmet?

Your infant's head grows most rapidly in the first year of life. If a helmet is to be effective, it should be instituted prior to this time. Ideally, the best time is between 6 to 7 months of age, but this depends on your particular baby. Usually, the helmet is worn until 12 months of age. Sometimes, the doctor decides that the helmet needs to be worn for a longer period of time.