THE PARENTS of a little boy are desperately trying to prevent their son from undergoing major surgery to straighten his skull.

Baby boy Henry Brown was born with a flat skull, and his parents claim he requires helmet therapy — a treatment to correct the shape of his head.

The 15-month-old baby was diagnosed with left plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome) just three months ago. He has also been diagnosed with torticollis - an abnormally tight neck muscle - which causes his head to tilt to one side.

Mother Alexandra Cafferty, aged 27, said: “We came to the realisation last month when Henry saw a specialist that he may need major surgery to straighten his skull. This surgery will leave a very visible scar, and a helmet is necessary for Henry’s case of left plagiocephaly, along with facial symmetry.

“Henry’s soft spot is still open for a short amount of time meaning we are able to mould his skull back to shape over time with the help of a medical helmet. His soft spot could close within eight weeks at which point it would be too late."

The family, who live in Radcliffe, has also discovered that Henry has Stage 4 lip tie.

His mother said babies usually undergo helmet therapy at around three months old, while their skulls are soft. Henry's parents say they have just eight weeks to act.

Helmet therapy treatment is unavailable on the NHS, as it says there is not enough evidence to show it works any better than alternative free techniques. The NHS also says the helmets often cause problems such as skin irritation and rashes, and they may be uncomfortable for babies.

However, torticollis can benefit from surgery. Under NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines, the NHS may consider a referral for physiotherapy treatment or prescribe muscle relaxants. Most babies don’t feel any pain as a result of torticollis, but without intervention it may permanently limit their neck movement and require surgery in later life.

His mother said: "The doctors told her there is no scientific research to say helmet therapy actually works which is why the NHS doesn't offer it. But we know another family that has had this done and it was really successful.

"It will have a massive impact for Henry if this is successul. I do not want him to feel out of place as he grows up, or having to undergo major surgery. We want to do all we can."

She added: "Normally you can self correct torticollis with physiotherapy but at Henry's age, and with the rapid growth of his skull and brain, he would need both the helmet, worn 20 hours day for a few months and physical therapy since his case is so severe."

The family is trying to raise £4,500 to cover the cost of fitting both a DOC band — a skull correction device — and six months' worth of physiotherapy sessions.

"These two requirements are a huge amount of money", Miss Cafferty said, "Money which we don't have time to raise ourselves.

"Any donation is greatly appreciated and a huge help, even if it’s just saying a prayer for Henry or simply just sharing our story. Your kind donations really do mean everything to us.”

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