Title:
Wearable body-positioning devices and methods
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device for positioning a body of a wearer includes a garment adapted to be worn on a body of a wearer, and an elongate member coupled to the garment and having a longitudinal axis oriented generally parallel to a spine of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer. The member supports a portion of the wearer's body in an elevated position when the wearer lays thereon. This in turn may urge a portion of the user's body, e.g., head, towards or away from a given position. Another embodiment includes a garment adapted to be worn around at least a torso of a wearer, and a member coupled to the garment, the member supporting a portion of the wearer's torso in an elevated position when the wearer lays thereon for urging a head of the wearer away from a particular orientation. Kits and methods are also presented.



Inventors:
Dewitt, Connie A. (San Jose, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/346742
Publication Date:
08/24/2006
Filing Date:
02/02/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41B13/08
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060037125Binocular to hat attachmentFebruary, 2006Mcdowell
20060191062Goggle lens interchange systemAugust, 2006Matera
20060000006Protective ear applianceJanuary, 2006Gellis et al.
20070157369Clothing with shape retainabilityJuly, 2007Uchibori et al.
20060212989Partially removable gloveSeptember, 2006White
20090217439Faux CamisoleSeptember, 2009Ross
20100071106BALLISTIC RESISTANT GARMENT QUICK RELEASE SYSTEMMarch, 2010Parks et al.
20040261180Infant sleep supportDecember, 2004Birns
20080222781Undergarment for prevention of leaks and permanent stainsSeptember, 2008Rhew
20050132466Elastomeric glove coatingJune, 2005Janssen et al.
20090193564Hunters Hat with MaskAugust, 2009Niedrich et al.



Primary Examiner:
HOEY, ALISSA L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Zilka-Kotab, PC (SAN JOSE, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A device for positioning a body, comprising: a garment adapted to be worn on a body of a wearer; and an elongate member coupled to the garment and having a longitudinal axis oriented generally parallel to a spine of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer, the member supporting a portion of the wearer's body in an elevated position when the wearer lays thereon.

2. A device as recited in claim 1, further comprising a sleeve for coupling the member to the garment, the member being inserted in the sleeve.

3. A device as recited in claim 2, wherein the sleeve is detachably coupled to the garment.

4. A device as recited in claim 2, wherein the member is removable from the sleeve.

5. A device as recited in claim 1, wherein the member is detachably coupled to the garment.

6. A device as recited in claim 1, wherein the member is coupled to the garment in a position such that the member is located along the wearer's back when the garment is being worn by the wearer.

7. A device as recited in claim 6, wherein the member has an upper end positioned towards a neck of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer, wherein the upper end of the member is positioned below a base of the neck of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer.

8. A device as recited in claim 6, wherein the member has a lower end positioned towards a waist of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer, wherein the lower end of the member is positioned below hips of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer.

9. A device as recited in claim 6, wherein the member is selectively pivotable from a left to a right side of the wearer's back when the garment is being worn by the wearer.

10. A device as recited in claim 1, wherein the member is selectively positionable along a line oriented parallel to the spine of the wearer.

11. A device as recited in claim 1, wherein the member is selectively positionable along a line oriented perpendicular to the spine of the wearer.

12. A device as recited in claim 1, wherein a cross-sectional shape of the member is selected from a group consisting of generally triangular, generally tubular, generally rectangular, generally semi-spherical, and generally semi-oval.

13. A device as recited in claim 1, wherein the member has an upper end positioned towards a neck of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer, wherein the upper end of the member has a cutout portion.

14. A device as recited in claim 1, wherein the garment includes multiple apertures for receiving extremities of the wearer.

15. A device as recited in claim 1, further comprising a head-positioning portion adapted for receiving a head of the wearer.

16. A method for treating plagiocephaly, comprising: instructing a human to wear a device as recited in claim 1.

17. A method for treating plagiocephaly, comprising: wearing a device as recited in claim 1.

18. A method for preventing plagiocephaly, comprising: wearing a device as recited in claim 1; and repositioning the member after a period of time elapses.

19. A device for positioning a body, comprising: a garment adapted to be worn around at least a torso of a wearer; and an elongate member coupled to the garment and having a longitudinal axis oriented generally parallel to a spine of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer, the member supporting a portion of the wearer's torso in an elevated position when the wearer lays thereon for urging a head of the wearer away from a particular orientation.

20. A device as recited in claim 19, wherein the member is coupled to the garment in a position such that the member is located along a back of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer.

21. A device as recited in claim 19, wherein the member is coupled to the garment in a position such that the member is located along a chest of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer.

22. A method for treating plagiocephaly, comprising: instructing a human to wear a device as recited in claim 19.

23. A method for treating plagiocephaly, comprising: wearing a device as recited in claim 19.

24. A method for preventing plagiocephaly, comprising: wearing a device as recited in claim 19; and repositioning the member after a period of time elapses.

25. A device for positioning a body, comprising: a garment adapted to be worn around at least a torso of a wearer; a member coupled to the garment, the member supporting a portion of the wearer's torso in an elevated position when the wearer lays thereon for urging a head of the wearer away from a particular orientation.

26. A device as recited in claim 25, wherein the member is coupled to the garment in a position such that the member is located along a back of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer.

27. A device as recited in claim 25, wherein the member is coupled to the garment in a position such that the member is located along a chest of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer.

28. A method for treating plagiocephaly, comprising: instructing a human to wear a device as recited in claim 25.

29. A method for treating plagiocephaly, comprising: wearing a device as recited in claim 25.

30. A method for preventing plagiocephaly, comprising: wearing a device as recited in claim 25; and repositioning the member after a period of time elapses.

31. A kit containing a device for positioning a body, comprising: a garment adapted to be worn on a body of a wearer; and at least one member being coupleable to the garment, the at least one member being for supporting a portion of the wearer's body in an elevated position when the wearer lays thereon.

32. A kit as recited in claim 31, further comprising a sleeve being coupleable to the garment, the sleeve being for receiving the at least one member for coupling the at least one member to the garment.

33. A kit as recited in claim 31, further comprising a plurality of sleeves being coupleable to the garment, the sleeves being for receiving the at least one member for coupling the at least one member to the garment.

34. A kit as recited in claim 31, wherein multiple members are provided, wherein at least some of the members have differing longitudinal lengths.

35. A kit as recited in claim 31, wherein multiple members are provided, wherein at least some of the members have differing cross sectional shapes.

36. A kit as recited in claim 31, further comprising a head-supporting portion being operatively coupleable to the garment.

37. A method for assisting in urging a head of the wearer away from a particular orientation, the method comprising: selecting a garment adapted to be worn on a body of a wearer, the garment having a member coupled thereto, the member supporting a portion of the wearer's body in an elevated position when the wearer lays thereon such that a head of the wearer is urged away from a particular orientation; and assisting in acquiring possession of the garment by the wearer.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/654,534 filed Feb. 18, 2005.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to medical devices, and more particularly, this invention relates to wearable devices and methods of use thereof for positioning a body of a wearer.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Since 1992 when the American Academy of Pediatrics began recommending that all infants sleep on their backs to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the incidence of positional plagiocephaly (also called deformational plagiocephaly) has increased dramatically. Positional plagiocephaly refers to a flattening of the back of the head, possible asymmetry of the shape of the skull, and potential bulges on the side of the head opposite the flattening. Positional plagiocephaly is believed to be caused by repeated prolonged pressure on a similar area of the head. As the brain and cranium grow, they expand in the direction of least resistance, i.e., the sides and front that are not in contact with the sleeping surface. Over time, positional plagiocephaly may result. Positional plagiocephaly is now believed to occur in one of every 60 live births, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Although considerable deformity, including facial deformity, may be present, most cases of positional plagiocephaly are considered cosmetic rather than medical issues because the condition is not believed to impact brain function and development.

There are currently three recognized treatments for plagiocephaly. The most common treatment is referred to as ′repositioning,″ and it amounts to positioning (and continually repositioning) the child such that the child does not lay or put pressure on the flat spot while either waking or asleep. Generally, a piece of fabric such as a rolled up towel, folded blanket, or commercially available wedge of foam is placed behind or under the child on the side opposite the flat spot while he is seated, reclining, or sleeping, in order to turn the head to keep the head's weight off of the flattened area. Often a foam headrest is also used as a preventative measure to distribute the head's weight over a larger area of the head. These approaches are most effective before the child is mobile enough to move from the desired position and off the positioning pad or pillow. Unfortunately, this often means that by the time the parents and doctor decide the condition warrants intervention, the child is so mobile that repositioning is of limited effectiveness. This treatment also requires considerable vigilance on the part of the child's parents, as the child must be continually repositioned as he or she moves. For this reason, this treatment has proven to be of limited efficacy. Such treatments may even be detrimental to the child. For instance, if the child rolls over in the headrest, the child may rebreathe air or even suffocate. Rebreathing air is believed to be related to SIDS.

In another treatment, physical therapy is used to stretch the neck muscles that lead to the tendency for the infant to turn his head in one direction. This method is used only when tight muscles are the underlying cause of plagiocephaly, which is not always the case.

The third treatment is a custom-made orthotic helmet designed to protect the flattened area and even reshape the head. These helmets are expensive (currently approximately $2800+) and often are not covered by insurance because positional plagiocephaly is generally considered a cosmetic issue by the medical community. The helmet typically must be worn at least 20 hours a day for between two and eight months, and must be periodically adjusted to accommodate head growth and reshaping. Most parents seek to avoid having to use the helmet both because of the cost and the stigma of having their child wear such an obtrusive orthotic device. Further, children often develop sore spots where the helmet exerts pressure on the head, and helmets are hot and generally become odorous with use.

What is therefore needed is a body positioning device that overcomes the drawbacks of the aforementioned methods. What is also needed is a body positioning device that moves with the child so that no matter how the child attempts to reposition himself, the head will be urged away from the flattened area. Further, what is also needed is a device that is adaptable such that a different portion of the child's head is in contact with the sleeping surface at different points in time so as to prevent positional plagiocephaly.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A device for positioning a body of a wearer according to one embodiment includes a garment adapted to be worn on a body of a wearer, and an elongate member coupled to the garment and having a longitudinal axis oriented generally parallel to a spine of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer. The member supports a portion of the wearer's body in an elevated position when the wearer lays thereon. This in turn may urge a portion of the user's body, e.g., head, towards or away from a given position.

A device for positioning a body according to another embodiment includes a garment adapted to be worn around at least a torso of a wearer, and an elongate member coupled to the garment and having a longitudinal axis oriented generally parallel to a spine of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer. The member supports a portion of the wearer's torso in an elevated position when the wearer lays thereon for urging a head of the wearer away from a particular orientation.

A device for positioning a body according to yet another embodiment includes a garment adapted to be worn around at least a torso of a wearer, and a member coupled to the garment. The member supports a portion of the wearer's torso in an elevated position when the wearer lays thereon for urging a head of the wearer away from a particular orientation.

Preferably, the member is detachably coupled to the garment, and may be coupled to the garment in a position such that the member is located along the wearer's back when the garment is being worn by the wearer. For instance, the member may have an upper end positioned towards a neck of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer, wherein the upper end of the member is positioned below a base of the neck of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer. Also, the member may have a lower end positioned towards a waist of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer, wherein the lower end of the member is positioned below hips of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer. The member may be selectively pivotable from a left to a right side of the wearer's back when the garment is being worn by the wearer.

A sleeve may be provided for coupling the member to the garment, the member being inserted in the sleeve. In some embodiments, the sleeve is detachably coupled to the garment. The member may be removable from the sleeve.

The member may be selectively positionable along a line oriented parallel to the spine of the wearer. The member may also be selectively positionable along a line oriented perpendicular to the spine of the wearer.

The member may have various cross-sectional shapes, such as generally triangular, generally tubular, generally rectangular, generally semi-spherical, and generally semi-oval.

In another embodiment, the member has an upper end positioned towards a neck of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer, wherein the upper end of the member has a cutout portion. A further embodiment includes a head-positioning portion adapted for receiving a head of the wearer.

The garment may include multiple apertures for receiving extremities of the wearer.

As noted above, the member may be coupled to the garment in a position such that the member is located along a back of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer. In other embodiments, the member is coupled to the garment in a position such that the member is located along a chest of the wearer when the garment is being worn by the wearer.

A kit containing a device for positioning a body according to one embodiment includes a garment adapted to be worn on a body of a wearer and at least one member being coupleable to the garment, the at least one member being for supporting a portion of the wearer's body in an elevated position when the wearer lays thereon. The kit may also include one or more sleeves being coupleable to the garment, the sleeve(s) being for receiving the at least one member for coupling the at least one member to the garment. The kit may further include multiple members, wherein at least some of the members have differing longitudinal lengths and/or differing cross sectional shapes. A head-supporting portion that is operatively coupleable to the garment may also be included in the kit.

A method for assisting in urging a head of the wearer away from a particular orientation includes the steps of selecting a garment adapted to be worn on a body of a wearer, the garment having a member coupled thereto, the member supporting a portion of the wearer's body in an elevated position when the wearer lays thereon such that a head of the wearer is urged away from a particular orientation; and assisting in acquiring possession of the garment by the wearer.

A method for treating plagiocephaly includes instructing a human to wear a device as recited above. Another method for treating plagiocephaly includes wearing a device as recited above. A method for preventing plagiocephaly includes instructing a human to wear a device as recited above, and repositioning the member after a period of time elapses.

Other aspects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description, which, when taken in conjunction with the drawings, illustrate by way of example the principles of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a fuller understanding of the nature and advantages of the present invention, as well as the preferred mode of use, reference should be made to the following detailed description read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

FIG. 1 is a front view of a wearable device for positioning a body of a wearer according to one embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a back view of the device of FIG. 1 showing a member on a left side.

FIG. 3 is a back view of the device of FIG. 1 showing a member on a right side.

FIG. 4 is a top view of the device of FIG. 1 showing the device in use.

FIG. 5 is a cross sectional view of a member according to one embodiment.

FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view of a member according to one embodiment.

FIG. 7 is a cross sectional view of a member according to one embodiment.

FIG. 8 is a top view of a device for positioning a body of a wearer according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a top view of the device of FIG. 8 with the member in a reversed position.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a member according to an embodiment of the present invention FIG. 11 is a front view of a device for positioning a body of a wearer according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 12 is a back view of the device of FIG. 11.

FIG. 13 is a side view of a device for positioning a body of a wearer according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 14 is a representative view of a kit according to an embodiment of the present invention.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

The following description is the best mode presently contemplated for carrying out the present invention. This description is made for the purpose of illustrating the general principles of the present invention and is not meant to limit the inventive concepts claimed herein. Further, particular features described herein can be used in combination with other described features in each of the various possible combinations and permutations.

In the drawings, like and equivalent elements are numbered the same throughout the various figures.

The present invention includes devices for positioning a body and methods for using such devices. In its simplest form, a device according to one embodiment of the present invention includes a garment adapted to be worn on a body of a wearer, and a member coupled to the garment, the member supporting a portion of the wearer's body in an elevated position when the wearer lies thereon.

Embodiments of the invention provide a comfortable, nonobtrusive device that a person such as an infant can wear to help prevent and treat positional plagiocephaly. Aspects of the invention may take advantage of the ′repositioning″ treatment technique, but because the garment is attached to the child and therefore ′inescapable″ (that is, the child can't roll away from it), it alleviates the constant parental vigilance repositioning treatment previously required and makes the window for repositioning treatment much longer. The same and other embodiments may be used to treat or prevent other maladies or injury, as well as allow positioning of the head or other body part toward or away from a certain position.

FIGS. 1-4 illustrate a device 100 for positioning a body according to one embodiment. As shown, the device includes a garment 102 adapted to be worn on a body of a wearer 104. Referring to FIGS. 2-4, an elongate member 106 is coupled to the garment 102. The elongate member 106 has a longitudinal axis oriented generally parallel to the spine of the wearer when the garment 102 is being worn by the wearer, the member 106 supporting a portion of the wearer's body in an elevated position when the wearer lies thereon, as shown in FIG. 4. The member 106 serves to position the wearer such that the wearer sleeps or reclines in the recommended supine position, but lies with the weight of his head away from the flat spot or in differing positions in the case of preventative use.

In this particular embodiment, best seen in FIGS. 1-3, the garment 102 takes the form of a vest with one or more sleeves 108 on the back that hold the member 106, thereby coupling it to the garment 102.

In the various embodiments of the present invention, the garment 102 can be any type of garment 102 that keeps the member 106 positioned towards the wearer's back (or front). The garment 102 can be specifically designed for the purposes set forth herein. Conventional garments 102 such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, slipovers, “onesies,” pajamas, vests, etc. can be modified as well.

Various features that ease insertion and removal of the wearer therefrom can be added to the garment 102, such as detachable shoulder covers, openable front, etc. A cinchable or elastic torso and/or waist section can also be provided to not only keep the garment 102 fitting snugly to the wearer so that the member 106 is positioned properly, but also allow resizing the garment 102 as the wearer grows. In the illustrative embodiment of FIGS. 1-4, the garment 102 is fastened snugly around the wearer with snaps or other fasteners 112 on the front. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 11 and 12, the garment 102 includes an adjustment flap 120 that is coupleable to another portion of the garment 102 via a suitable fastener, e.g., hooks and loops fastener, to allow selective setting of the garment 102 tension around the wearer's body. The garment 102 may also have snaps or other fasteners 112 over the shoulders to enable the garment 102 to be put on and taken off an infant easily without having to put his arms through fixed armholes 110.

The garment 102 can be constructed of any suitable material, including cotton, cotton/polyester blend, polyester, a resiliently deformable material such as spandex, netting, etc. and combinations of different materials. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the kinds and types of materials used to construct the garment 102 is not critical and virtually any material can be used.

The garment 102 preferably includes holes 110 for the extremities, e.g., arms and/or legs. See FIGS. 1-2. Inserting the extremities through holes 110 keeps the garment 102 from significantly sliding around the body of the wearer. A crotch strap 126 (FIG. 13) or the like can also be present to keep the garment 102 from cinching up the waist and/or torso of the wearer.

The member 106 may take various forms. For example, illustrative cross-sectional shapes of the member 106 include tubular or oval (FIG. 5), square or rectangular (FIG. 6), arced or hemispherical (FIG. 7) that causes the wearer to roll one way or the other, or any other desirable shape. See also FIG. 14, which shows several other illustrative shapes.

FIGS. 8-10 show another embodiment having a triangular or “wedge” shaped member 106. The member 106 in FIG. 8 is thicker on the wearer's right, causing the head to lean to the left. In FIG. 9, the member's position has been reversed, causing the wearer's head to lean to the right. Similarly, in FIGS. 2 and 3, note that the member 106 is positioned to the wearer's left in FIG. 2 and to the right in FIG. 3.

In a further exemplary embodiment, a triangular or “wedge” shaped member 106 is inserted in a sleeve 108 that is coupled to the middle back of the garment 102, and so can be flopped to the left or right depending on the wearer's needs.

Note that in FIG. 10, the member 106 includes a removable, washable casing 122 surrounding an insert (not shown).

The length, width, and thickness of the member 106 is not critical. One designing the member 106 should consider the comfort of the wearer and the desired position of the head, among other things. Additional features such as tapering, contouring, etc. may be added to the member.

The member 106 is preferably lightweight yet durable so it does not break down over time. The member 106 is preferably resiliently deformable so that it is comfortable yet provides the desired support. Illustrative materials from which the member 106 may be constructed include plastics, polymeric foams such as memory foams, sponges, Styrofoam, cotton, balls as in a bean bag, etc.

The positioning of the member 106 may be important when the wearer is an infant. For instance, the member 106 should be positioned low enough on the wearer's back to be below the base of the neck so as not to hyperextend the wearer's neck. Preferably the upper end of the member 106 is positioned at some point between the shoulder blades, or slightly thereabove. The lower end of the member 106 should extend to below the hip, and preferably at least to the base of the backbone so that the wearer's back remains straight, thereby avoiding twisting of the spine.

Longer members 106 are also contemplated. For example, the member 106 may have a cutout at its upper end, e.g., to avoid contact with the neck and/or head. This configuration is useful, for example, where the member 106 extends beyond the base of the neck. This configuration also allows use of a longer member 106 which may be repositioned as the child grows.

The member 106 can be permanently coupled to the garment 102, e.g., integral thereto. In such embodiments, the member 106 can be sewn into the garment 102, formed directly thereon or therein, adhered thereto with an adhesive, etc.

Preferably, however, the member 106 is detachable so as to allow washing and drying of the garment 102 without any deleterious effects on the member 106. For example, the member 106 may have a coupling mechanism thereon for direct attachment to the garment 102. Suitable fasteners 112 for the member 106 as well as other portions of the device 100 include zippers, hooks and loops fasteners 112, buttons, snaps, thread, etc. One skilled in the art will appreciate the many ways that the various parts of the inventive device 100 may be coupled together.

In a preferred embodiment, the garment 102 includes a sleeve 108 into which the member 106 is insertable, as shown in FIGS. 2-3. The sleeve 108 may or may not be detachable from the garment 102. Illustrative sleeves 108 have one or more fasteners 112 at or along one end thereof, along an outer or inner side thereof, etc. FIG. 12 illustrates a sleeve 108 in the form of a pocket, with a fastener along the top edge thereof.

The member 106 may be selectively positionable vertically (parallel to the spine) and/or horizontally (perpendicular to the spine). Vertical positionability allows setting the proper position of the member 106 relative to the base of the neck. Horizontal positionability allows setting the general angle of tilt of the child's head, thereby allowing more accurate avoidance of the flat or injured spot on the head, while also allowing positioning about the center of pivoting of the head on the high spot for example. Thus, the member 106 can be optimally positioned for a given child, as well as periodically adjusted as the child grows.

As an option, as shown in FIG. 13, the device 100 may include a head-positioning portion 124, which is positioned under the child's head. The head-positioning portion 124 is preferably coupled to the member 106 so that the head-positioning portion 124 moves with the child, and thereby avoids problems such as improper placement and rebreathing air. The head-positioning portion 124 may be similar in constitution, construction, and attachment as the member 106.

As shown in FIG. 14, a kit 140 includes a garment 102, one or more members 106, optionally one or more sleeves 108, and optionally a head-supporting portion 124. A single member 106 may be provided that is longer than needed, and which can be cut to the desired length. A single sleeve 108 may have an internal fastener that allows internal coupling of the member 106 to the sleeve 108, and/or may have an internal fastener such as a hooks and loops fastener that allows variable-length or fixed-length coupling of opposing internal sides of the sleeve 108 together so that the member 106 is held in a desired vertical position in the sleeve 108. Also, multiple members 106 of varying length and/or shape can be provided so as to allow selection of a member 106 or members 106 that will work best for the child at a particular stage in the child's development. The kit may include a left and a right member 106 so that the child rests at alternate pivot angles.

There have thus been presented various embodiments of the device. Illustrative variations on the device to serve different needs are presented immediately below.

One variation that could typically be used for treatment of positional plagiocephaly has a member in a fixed position on either the left or the right. In this case, the sleeve may be permanently affixed to the vest body in the desired position, but has snaps or other fasteners down the length of the sleeve or pocket to enable easy removal of the member.

In a variation that may be used for prevention of positional plagiocephaly, the position of the member is changed from side to side on alternate nights or in the case where the flattened area is in the middle of the back of the head. Such an embodiment may include a movable sleeve such that the padding can be moved from one side to the other on the same garment. In these instances the sleeve is preferably attached to the garment on both sides via fasteners such as snaps, zippers, buttons, hook and loop fasteners, etc. or some combination of these. Having snaps or other fasteners on both sides of the sleeve or pocket both enables the padding to be removed for laundering and enables the sleeve to be moved from one side to the other and re-fastened as desired.

Different sizes and shapes of the member may be used based on the angle of inclination required to position the child away from his flat spot.

In use, in cases of positional plagiocephaly on the side of the back of the head, for example, the member is inserted into the sleeve that runs along the back of the garment from the shoulder to just below the wearer's waist, on the side of the flattened area. Thus the wearer will lie on his back at a bit of an angle, leaning away from the side with the padding, making the wearer tend to turn his head away from the flattened area and onto the ′high″ area. This is precisely the position desired for the ′repositioning″ treatment of positional plagiocephaly. For example, suppose a child has a flat spot on the left back side of his head. When he sleeps on his back while wearing the garment with member down the left side of his back, his head will tend to turn to the right, keeping the weight of the head off from the flat spot and on the ′high″ spot.

To prevent the development of positional plagiocephaly in a very young infant or to treat a flattened area in the middle of the back of the head, the child alternates the side of the head that bears weight by wearing the device with a sleeve and member on the left side one night and the device with the member on the right side on the following night (or some other period, e.g., every second night, every fourth night, etc). The device can be made with two sleeves or pockets on the back so that the padding is simply alternated between the two pockets on alternate nights. The device is most effective when worn by the child during the time of most rapid cranial growth, which is the first 18 months of life.

Embodiments have thus been described which both make the repositioning treatment more effective and extend the time during which repositioning may be used well into the time the child is mobile. It also requires less constant vigilance from parents. Because the repositioning mechanism is attached to the child, even as he moves around in his crib, whenever he is on his back, the device is in place. (Note that if the child rolls over to sleep on his stomach or side he is automatically relieving pressure from the flat spot). Although once they become mobile children do turn over in their sleep, placing the child down to sleep on their back is still recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to help prevent SIDS. Embodiments of the present invention has the potential to prevent children with mild to moderate positional plagiocephaly from having to enter helmet therapy. This will save many families from the costs, the inconveniences and the stigma of having to wear a helmet and will enable families without access to medical care a treatment option for what can be a disfiguring condition. It will also save parents the considerable stress associated with the constantly repositioning a child each time he moves to keep pressure off from the flat spot.

The device can also be worn with the member in front of the wearer to limit rotation of the head when lying on the stomach. When using the device in such an embodiment, one should be aware of the possibility of rebreathing air and suffocation, and prepare the bed or crib accordingly.

A method for assisting in urging a head of the wearer away from a particular orientation includes the steps of selecting a garment adapted to be worn on a body of a wearer, the garment having a member coupled thereto, the member supporting a portion of the wearer's body in an elevated position when the wearer lays thereon such that a head of the wearer is urged away from a particular orientation; and assisting in acquiring possession of the garment by the wearer. A method for treating plagiocephaly includes instructing a human to wear a device as recited above. Another method for treating plagiocephaly includes wearing a device as recited above. A method for preventing plagiocephaly includes instructing a human to wear a device as recited above, and repositioning the member after a period of time elapses. It is anticipated that doctors, pediatricians, physical therapists, parents and others will perform these methods by recommending or prescribing use of any of the embodiments or permutations described herein.

While various embodiments have been described above, it should be understood that they have been presented by way of example only, and not limitation. Thus, the breadth and scope of a preferred embodiment should not be limited by any of the above-described exemplary embodiments, but should be defined only in accordance with the following claims and their equivalents.