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Children with Flat Head Syndrome, Spondyloarthritis Now Have Access to Specialized Clinics
Children with Flat Head Syndrome, Spondyloarthritis Now Have Access to Specialized Clinics

BIRMINGHAM – Two new clinics at Children’s of Alabama now provide care to patients diagnosed with spondyloarthritis and plagiocephaly, also referred to as flat head syndrome. The clinics are run in conjunction with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Matthew Stoll, M.D., UAB associate professor of pediatric rheumatology, directs the Pediatric Spondyloarthritis Clinic at Children’s, which offers clinical care and conducts research on youth with spondyloarthritis. This form of arthritis involves inflammation and tenderness in areas where the ligaments and tendons attach to the bones, accompanied by pain and swelling in the joints. In some cases, spondyloarthritis primarily affects the spine, while other forms can affect the peripheral joints, primarily — but not exclusively — those in the legs. Typical symptoms are low back pain and stiffness, joint swelling and pain in areas such as the Achilles tendon.

While the exact cause of spondyloarthritis is unknown, patients are able to participate in ongoing research that will help advance understanding of the disease. Treatment regimens include conventional therapeutic drugs as well as newer biologic therapies.

The Plagiocephaly Clinic at Children’s offers a multi-disciplinary approach to treat infants with positional plagiocephaly, or flattening of the head. Positional plagiocephaly occurs when the soft bones of an infant’s head meet pressure or resistance either before or after birth when the child lays or sleeps in one position regularly.

Curtis Rozzelle, M.D., UAB associate professor of pediatric neurosurgery, and Dr. James Johnston, M.D., UAB assistant professor of pediatric neurosurgery, direct the Plagiocephaly Clinic, which treats infants from 1 to 9 months old. The clinic offers an initial neurosurgical evaluation to determine whether the flattening of the head is a positional deformation or true craniosynostosis – a deformity of the skull that occurs when one or more of the joints in an infant’s head closes prematurely.

The clinic also assists with the treatment of torticollis or neck muscle issues that can often accompany positional plagiocephaly. In addition, the clinic offers on-site scanning for a custom-fitted orthosis for infants who would benefit from wearing a cranial helmet.

Since 1911, Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children, offering inpatient and outpatient services throughout central Alabama. Ranked among the best pediatric medical care centers in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s provided care for youth from every county in Alabama, 42 other states and 10 foreign countries last year, representing more than 653,000 outpatient visits and nearly 14,000 inpatient admissions. With more than 2 million square feet, Children’s is the third largest pediatric medical facility in the U.S. More information is available online at