BY NICK CLARK
Ever since birth, Nolan had a preference for laying with his head leaning just a bit toward the right. No matter which way we positioned him, he somehow managed to wiggle his way back to his comfort zone. It was really no shock to us when our pediatrician recommended Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital for a head scan. The team at Mary Free Bed used flashing toys to keep him still enough to take scans of his head, which helped make the process feel effortless. Once we got the verdict that his head shape was severely outside of a normal range, the “Mom guilt” set in. How could I have prevented this? Have I failed my beautiful, sweet boy? What will the next few months feel like for him? For our family?
The orthotist at Mary Free Bed reassured us that the time will fly by, and depending on his progress, he may only need the helmet for 3-4 months. We settled on a space-themed STARband helmet and a couple of weeks later, on March 18th, had Nolan properly fitted by Melissa, our orthotist. The first few days were definitely an adjustment. Luckily several other babies in Nolan’s daycare class wore helmets, so his teachers were well-versed in the cleaning and maintenance. And he honestly didn’t even seem to notice the helmet in the beginning.
At every check-up with Melissa, we were amazed at how far he progressed and how much wearing the helmet changed the shape of his skull. We did have one hiccup – Nolan’s head was growing so quickly that his forehead was rubbed raw. Even with taking a full week off, he went right back to wearing his helmet like nothing happened.
On July 8th, we had our final appointment with Melissa. She took a final scan of his head, which showed significant improvement and is now within the normal range. We are proud of his growth, in awe of his strength and thrilled with our STARband experience.
One of the main reasons we had any reservations about Nolan wearing a helmet was how others would perceive him. Would someone look at him and ask, “What’s wrong with him?” We were so excited to be able to choose a design for his helmet; for three months and 19 days, Nolan got to be the cutest space explorer. It warmed our hearts when strangers would stop us to comment on how good he was, or how sweet he looked in his helmet. We are so grateful to the team at Mary Free Bed and also to STARband for giving Nolan the tools to grow in a healthy way.