Patient Story: Grayson

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Grayson Tibbetts was born without a soft spot on the top of his skull. By his one-month checkup, Grayson's head was becoming noticeably long and narrow.

His pediatrician suspected the baby had fused skull plates, known as sagittal craniosynostosis. If not corrected, the premature closure of skull plates can put dangerous pressure on the brain and cause skull deformity.

Parents Erica and Stew Tibbetts decided to look for alternatives to the traditional corrective surgery, which includes an ear-to-ear incision across the top of his head, followed by a week-long inpatient stay, swelling, and possible blood loss.

Scouring the Internet, Erica discovered a minimally invasive technique—practiced right here by the multidisciplinary craniofacial team at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

At three months old, Grayson underwent hour-long endoscopic surgery performed by plastic surgeon Albert Woo, MD, and neurosurgeon Petra Klinge, MD.

One-inch incisions were made at the front and back of the baby’s skull. The specialists then removed a portion of Grayson’s skull, giving his brain the room it needed to grow. The baby went home the next day, wearing a helmet 23 hours a day for protection as well as to reshape his head as his skull regenerated.

Physical and occupational therapy helped strengthen Grayson’s neck to support the weight of the helmet, and his head started to round out just a few weeks after surgery. As Grayson’s head grew, the helmet was adjusted. Six months after surgery, he was done with helmet therapy.

“He has a perfectly shaped head now and his brain is fine,” says Erica. “You can barely see the surgical scars.” Grayson, who turned one year old in September 2017, has met all of his developmental milestones and is thriving.

“To have Drs. Woo and Klinge here in Rhode Island was amazing,” says Stew. “We would have traveled anywhere for what we found right in our own backyard.”