It was a plain, off-white, doctor-ordered helmet used to combat a condition known as plagiocephaly. The disorder, characterized by the flattening of one side of an infant’s head, requires a “DOC band” wrap to be worn 23 hours a day to help reshape the skull.
Mary Sol Gonzalez, owner of the business that recently rebranded itself as Image360 Boca Raton, took on the challenge. She reached out to a nonprofit in Texas, Wrap Buddies, which specializes in just these kind of cranial wraps, and completed, pro-bono, what turned out to be the first of many DOC orders.
“After seeing how happy the mom was and witnessing the pure joy and satisfaction on her face, the team and I unanimously agreed that this was a cause worth supporting,” says Gonzalez, whose company has since created more than 30 DOC bands for children in South Florida.
While the disorder is not widely known, documented cases of plagiocephaly have increased dramatically over the past few decades. Experts point to a 1992 American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation, which advised parents to sleep infants on their back to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, as a primary reason.
Plagiocephaly often is caused when infants spend a large amount of time on their back or with their head resting against a flat surface. Other common causes include restrictive intrauterine environment, premature birth, or spending extensive time in infant car seats, carriers and swings.
The condition is treatable—and, thanks to companies like Image360, it also can be done in style. Designs range from sports themes to children’s movie characters to flowers. Parents often have their child’s name added, as well.
Recently, Image360 created a Miami Heat design for Marcel, a young boy from Miami. “His dad is a huge Heat fan and with the team in the NBA [Finals], this was a fun one to create,” Gonzalez says. “I am sure that both father and son are getting a ton of attention as of late.”
Another family, with a child on her third DOC band, travels from Miami to Image360 by train. At first, the mother walked from the train station to the store to wait for the band to be fitted and wrapped. But after realizing the lengths to which they were going, Gonzalez offered to pick up mother and daughter at the train station.
Gonzalez sees this as part of a larger commitment; Image360 plans to create as many free-of-charge DOC wraps as South Florida parents need moving forward. “We are invested for the long term,” she says.
Enough South Florida children are suffering from plagiocephaly that the company is creating a nonprofit extension that will allow Image360 to receive donations from individuals, companies and partners who want to help.
“This [project] has given the entire team great satisfaction not only through helping the families, but by creating a dialogue about plagiocephaly,” Gonzalez says. “Our quest, for these children and their parents, is to allow them to convert negative attention into positive attention.”