Use of facial asymmetry in better diagnosis and treatment of Plagiocephaly

Lead Research Organisation: University of the West of England
Department Name: Research Business and Innovation

Abstract

There is an increasing tendency for young children to develop a medical condition (known a Plagiocephaly), which can result in deformity of their heads and distortions of the faces. It is possible to help remove the condition by having the child wear a carefully designed helmet that encourages the skull to grow in a direction that will tend to minimize the deformity. In order to manufacture such a helmet, the doctors involved need to have an accurate model of the shape of the child?s head. At the moment this model is made by making a plaster cast of the head; which is a procedure that that can be quite upsetting for the child, or which necessitates the use of a general anesthetic, with all the associated risks which that entails. The proposed project aims to overcome this problem by using cameras and lights in order to quickly and accurately measure the child?s head and face. As well as enabling manufacture of the helmet, this data will help with finding a link between the deformity of the head and the distortions of the face. This will help to show whether looking closely at the face could be way to diagnose Plagiocephaly. It will also provide a method for monitoring and evaluating the success of the helmet treatment.

Technical Summary

Plagiocephaly is a cranial disorder where the two sides of the skull develop inconsistently, so that the shape of head exhibits a pronounced asymmetry, flattening or other abnormal shape. This research project will combine novel and advanced machine vision techniques, 3D metrology system and shape modelling in order to determine:

Whether Plagiocephaly is always associated with a measurable asymmetry of the face.

How close a correlation there is between the nature of 3D head deformation and 3D face shape. If there is a close correlation, can face shape / asymmetry be used as a diagnostic aid or in assessing treatment? (i. e. do we always need to look at the whole head?)

If it possible to differentiate between differing conditions, e.g. position Plagiocephaly, ocular Plagiocephaly, Torticollis, etc using 3D face measurements. i. e. do they have particular, distinct 3D face signatures?

We propose to employ a photometric stereo (PS) method for the capture of 2D and 3D surface details of the human face, and subsequently to analyze the symmetry of the whole face based on its 2D and 3D information, and to use this information to assess the severity of Plagiocephaly.

Publications

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Title Asymmetry analyser 
Description Combination of existing and novel hardware and software to assess the deformation of skulls in more robust ways than was previously possible. 
Type Diagnostic Tool - Imaging
Current Stage Of Development Initial development
Year Development Stage Completed 2009
Development Status Actively seeking support
Impact Potential diagnosis and treatment aid for plagiocephaly-affected babies. Further research is needed to take this forward. 
 
Description Bulletin 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Summary of the project aims in the university newsletter.

Several parents wanted to bring their children to the laboratory to undergo a scan for cranial deformity analysis.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description EPSRC Bridging the Gaps Project; presentation to a wide audience. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The presentation by the PI of the MVL 'Plagio' research, at the 2008 EPSRC Bridging the Gaps Project, was attended by an audience of around 40 staff with interests in bridging the gaps between various disciplines such as mathematics, ICT and engineering. The talk was well received.

A range of questions were answered.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description Presentation of research work in 'Use of facial asymmetry in better diagnosis and treatment of Plagiocephaly' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation of research work in 'Use of facial asymmetry in better diagnosis and treatment of Plagiocephaly' to visitors to the Centre for Machine Vision, UWE. Many of the persons/companies presented to have gone on to have collaborations with CMV, or have funded research projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2010,2011,2012,2013
 
Description Webpages 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Several science websites (e.g. Science City Bristol) published web articles on the research. We also have UWE Centre for Machine Vision web pages that give details on the research we have undertaken in use of advanced 3D machine vision methods for measurement of Plagiocephaly and tidal breathing. These are being updated on an on-going basis.

Through these websites, we were able to publicise a relatively little-known condition to the general public. Our work has also appeared in the Times Higher Education Supplement and on an NHS news website for interested parents. We also hope that one or more further news sites will publish the results after we re-engage with the press as explained previously."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2010,2011,2012,2013