Transforming Medical Devices Into Amazing Works Of Art, Woman Gives Unique Look To Baby Helmets
Noelle Talmon 11/30/2017
Every parent hopes their newborn baby will be healthy, but sometimes infants must battle medical conditions shortly after they're born. One common condition is cranial plagiocephaly, which is a flat spot on the back or side of a baby's head.
Many of these infants are equipped with special medical helmets to correct the problem and to foster proper skull development. Unfortunately, the device draws a lot of unwanted attention from people who don't understand their purpose.
California mom Landee Tim was saddened when she found out her son Henry had to wear a medical helmet. She felt even worse when she went out in public and people criticized her.
Landee told TODAY Parents:
"Once, while shopping, a woman walked by me and made a snarky remark, saying, 'If she'd stop dropping him all the time, he wouldn't need a helmet.' Another stranger commented, 'Oh, he must be a seizure kid.'"
These comments made Landee and her husband feel so terrible that they decided to do something about it. A quick internet search led them to artist Paula Strawn, who transforms infant corrective helmets into fun works of art.
It takes only a few days for Paula to create her tiny masterpieces. Since babies are required to wear the devices up to 23 hours a day, she makes sure there is a quick turnaround.
Paula made a pilot helmet for Henry, similar to the one below.
Landee was delighted with the result. She immediately noticed how people's reactions to her son had changed. She explained:
"Most of the time, Henry received playful smiles, waves and comments on how adorable his helmet was. Some even asked where they could pick one up for their children - not realizing it was a medical device."
Paula has been painting infant corrective helmets since 2003 after a friend requested she make one for her granddaughter.
Little did Paula know that her services would be in such high demand. The Washington native spends between 60 and 80 hours a week painting the corrective devices. She's made more than 3,000 so far and takes pride in her work.
She notes on her Facebook page:
"I believe a fun and friendly design is an attitude changer for parents, family, friends and anyone who comes in contact with baby. instead of pitying or worried looks, you will have people saying 'oh how cute!'"
Paula told TODAY Parents:
"I have had parents in my living room in tears because their beautiful baby has to wear this ugly-but-needed thing. They don't want others to look at their adored and cherished wonder of the world with pity, and that is heartbreaking."
Many parents find the process of choosing a helmet design very therapeutic. Once their babies are fitted with the spruced-up head ware, they are rewarded with smiles from strangers instead of looks of pity.
Mom Emily Davis from Ohio found out her son Brendan needed a corrective helmet when he was four months old. She and her husband chose a Back To The Future-themed helmet.
She told ABC News:
"Instead of people feeling sorry for him, they question why he has such a fun helmet on."
Paula also paints helmets for children with craniosynostosis, a condition that can give the baby's head a misshapen appearance if it's not treated. Her talents aren't limited to helmets -- she paints other medical devices as well.
Her designs vary. Paula has a lot of parents who are sports fans, and some who like art, such as Van Gogh's "Starry Night." Another popular theme is Star Wars. Prices range between $200 and $350.
They say you should find a job doing what you love, and that's exactly what Paula has done. Not only is she passionate about her work, she is also brightening the lives of hundreds of families.