Use of the Cranial Cup to Correct Positional Head Shape Deformities in Hospitalized Premature Infants

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Objective:To examine the feasibility, effectiveness, and safety of the cranial cup for the correction of visible head shape deformities in premature infants.Design:A prospective descriptive research design.Setting:Two study sites, an urban Level 4 NICU and a suburban Level 2 special care nursery.Participants:The study sample consisted of 23 neonates and infants with deformational plagiocephaly who were born at less than or equal to 35 weeks gestation, weighed greater than 1 kg, and were in the convalescent phase (stable) of their hospitalizations.Methods:All participants received the experimental treatment with the cranial cup. Infants were positioned on the cranial cup for a minimum of 12 hours per day. They also received routine position changes at least every 3 to 4 hours. Demographic data and baseline and discharge cranial measurements were obtained for each infant.Results:All participants (N = 23) had visible deformational plagiocephaly on study entry, and 86% (n = 19) had corresponding abnormal cranial measurements. The median hours per day on the cranial cup was 12.7 (range = 6.3 to 18.0). At hospital discharge, 83% (n = 19) of participants had normal cranial measurements. Furthermore, there were no reported safety concerns associated with use of the cranial cup.Conclusion:Use of the cranial cup during the convalescent phase of hospitalization is feasible and safe, and it provides effective correction of DP for premature neonates and infants.

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