June 7, 2018

PM&R Orthotist Featured in "This is Michigan" Campaign

Ammanath Peethambaran, an orthotist at the U-M Orthotics and Prosthetics Center, headed the team that designed a better helmet 17 years ago and is featured in a campaign for the "This is Michigan" project.

Three babies, two helmets, one success story for Gaylord triplets


Taking home three healthy daughters born three months early at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in March 2016 was a gift as it was, but after two of the three girls were diagnosed with plagiocephaly, a flattening of the head, a few months later, their parents Victoria and Kody Buursma were grateful for yet another gift: a helmet therapy invented at the University of Michigan.

The triplets, now 2, known around town in Gaylord and found @triplethefun on Instagram, where their big bows and smiles are documented, “are now just normal kids,” their father Kody Buursma said. No more photos of them wearing helmets, only hair accessories.

Josephine (“Josie”) and Rosalie (“Rosie”) spent nearly 24 hours a day wearing helmets for about 2 months and “when they came off, I got super emotional,” said their mom, Victoria. “It was so nice to see their hair again.” Sister Eleanor (“Ellie”) didn’t require a helmet. Not wanting to be left out, she often demanded her sisters’ helmets, adorned in stickers, printed with the girls’ names.

While Josie and Rosie graduated from their U-M-born helmets, many more babies go into them each day.

The University of Michigan Orthotics and Prosthetics Center fits 200-250 babies each year for the helmets it designed in 2001, the same style worn by the Buursmas. The helmets, which are adjustable to grow with babies’ heads, thanks to the orthotics team’s bivalve design, have a 95-percent success rate correcting plagiocephaly. They are distributed around the country and also manufactured for infants in Japan.