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Local mother warns against helmet clinics

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    NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) — News 4 Investigates is looking into the condition known as plagiocephaly and found it paying for fixing the disorder can be complicated.

For Lindsay and Michael Hazlehurst, their son’s birth, waring was their greatest joy in life.

“We were excited. We didn’t really know what to expect as with any delivery, you don’t know what your story’s going to be,” Lindsay Hazlehurst, who is the child’s mother, said.

The child is all smiles and giggles. People would never know waring suffers from plagiocephaly. Plagiocephaly is a condition more common than people realize, and it’s where your baby may have a flattened head on one side.

“His facial features looked a little different, so his cheek would be a little droopy, his eye was dropping a little. It looked a little asymmetrical,” Lindsay Hazlehurst said.

Lindsay Hazlehurst said she took her son to a local helmet clinic in Nashville and was told she should buy a certain kind of helmet. The helmet’s price is $2,500 and is all out of pocket because her insurance, she says, wouldn’t cover it.

But, a few months later, the Hazlehursts’ son’s head still looked the same. Lindsay Hazlehurst said she was told she needed another helmet at the exact cost.

“Being asked to have a second helmet was a little bit of a red flag. That’s when I was like, well, maybe I should get a second opinion,” Lindsay Hazlehurst said.
Lindsay Hazlehurst said she did that and that doctor recommended a different kind of helmet. Once she switched, she says she started to see a difference in her son’s head.

“I just kind of felt doped in the sense that I was told he now had to have a second helmet,” Lindsay Hazlehurst said.

“It would be ideal for the pediatrician to refer them to us first rather than a helmet clinic in case it was something more serious,” Claire Gargaro said. Gargaro works in Vanderbilt’s Pediatric Plastic Surgery Department.

Gargaro says you want to make sure you see a clinician such as a neurosurgeon before going to a helmet clinic.

“There is a sweet spot where you want to repair it to get best developmental outcomes and things like that,” said Michael Golinko. He is the Chief of the Pediatric Plastic Surgery Department at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.

Lindsay Hazlehurst said she wants other parents to learn from her mistakes. She knows what to look for and get a second opinion before you buy the helmet.

“He might’ve had a quicker outcome than he is now. He might have had to wear it for a less amount of time. I just felt like they were taking advantage of a situation and something that’s costly,” Lindsay Hazlehurst said.

Doctors said most children’s heads aren’t perfectly round, and many don’t need a helmet. That’s why they stress getting multiple opinions or seeing a neurosurgeon. They also said check with your insurance company. Some plans will cover the cost of a helmet.

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