SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio family worried being a “helmet kid” might bring stigma to their baby, and found a creative solution that might inspire families going through the same thing.
Michelle Snell always notices one thing about four-month-old Evan.
"His smile,” she says with a laugh. “You can't beat that."
But the new mother worries all anyone else will notice is her son’s new helmet.
"I like having this open spot here so I can still smell his hair,” Michelle says.
It’s estimated that one in 300 infants develops a flat spot on the back of the head, and many of those babies end up wearing cranial helmets for several months to correct the problem.
"This is a cosmetic fix,” Michelle says. “Insurance does not cover this."
It set Michelle and her husband Eric back $2,000. Little Evan will wear it 23 hours a day for at least the next three months.
"He has a flat spot on the back so he has widening on the sides,” Michelle says.
The flat spot on Evan's head is kind of like a Halloween pumpkin: the longer the pumpkin sits in one place, the flat spot on the bottom spreads.
That's what the bones in Evan's head are doing, too.
"What this [helmet] prevents is any more growth from side to side, and leaves space in the back for him to grow lengthwise,” Michelle explains.
As the helmet protects their bundle of joy, the Snells knew it might also attract stares from strangers.
"Something that people are whispering about – what's wrong with him? Why does he have to wear a helmet?" Michelle says.
So she and Eric put on their own thinking caps.
"Can't wait to get my wrap,” she says softly to her son.
They found Wrap Buddies
, a Dallas-based company that pays for cranial helmets to be specially-wrapped, kind of like what NASCAR drivers wear. Wrap Buddies will also donate wraps for prosthetic legs and other medical devices.Traffic Graffics
, a San Antonio company, created and fit the final design.
"Getting it put on was a little emotional,” Michelle says. "I was just so happy we're not going to have this stark, medical-looking device on his head."
The finished product: skull and bones, with rattles instead of bones – something cool, yet childlike.
"It won't be so much, ‘What's wrong with him?’” Michelle describes strangers’ reactions. “It's going to be, ‘Wow, that's really cool.’"
It’s a creative solution symbolizing Evan’s battle to reshape his skull.