When doctors recommended a 7-month-old boy be outfitted with a helmet, his mother had a novel idea to help avert stares and instead spark smiles.
Brendan Davis was diagnosed with plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome, at four months old.
"Early on he had favored one side and he kept sleeping to that side and I noticed that it was flat," his mother Emily Davis told ABC News.
Eventually doctors suggested that the now 7-month-old be outfitted with a helmet to "round his head out," Davis said. But, his doctors had a suggestion -- contact artist Paula Strawn of Lazardo Art.
Strawn told ABC News she's been painting helmets for conditions of all kinds for 14 years thanks to a suggestion from her daughters' teacher.
The stay-at-home mother now paints about seven helmets a week, charging an average of $200 to $300, depending on the design.
Strawn, 60, said the act of designing a helmet often helps anxious parents.
"I've literally had moms sit on my couch and cry because they're so sad that her beautiful child has to wear this helmet," she recalled. "The process of design helps people. They go from feeling bad to 'Oh, that's a fun idea!' It's like therapy."
It certainly helped Emily Davis and her husband of nine years, Justin. They chose a "Back to the Future" theme for their son's helmet.
"We like 80s movies," she explained. "We think it's a great movie. We recently introduced it to our 6-year-old son, Liam."
Brendan Davis' helmet not only has several references to the 1985 film, starring Michael J. Fox, but also has references to Mickey Mouse and Youngstown State University, where Emily Davis currently works. It's the same school from which her husband graduated.
Emily Davis said her son had no problem adapting to the helmet.
"When we put it on, he was at first like, 'What is this?' and then he went about this business," she said.
More importantly, her son isn't greeted with stares, he's greeted with positive feedback.
"Instead of people feeling sorry for him, they question why he has such a fun helmet on," Davis added.
After four weeks in his helmet, Davis said her son's condition has improved dramatically. He still has 10 weeks left to go in the helmet, but she knows he'll be OK thanks to the helmet with the design.
"It brings a bit of sunshine into our cloudy day," she said.
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