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The brachial plexus is a group of nerves between the neck and the shoulder. The nerves start in the spinal cord in the neck and then branch into the arm, forearm and hand. These nerves give the arm, forearm and hand their feeling and move the muscles in these areas.
A brachial plexus injury is an injury to the brachial nerves. These injuries differ in how severe they are, how much they will improve and how long it will take for them to improve. The nerves can be harmed by pressure, being stretched, torn or even cut.
Brachial plexus birth palsy is an injury to the brachial plexus nerves that usually happens when a baby is being born. Brachial plexus birth palsy is one of the most common injuries that can occur during birth. It is most common in difficult deliveries. It is important to know that the injury may have happened to deliver the baby safely and avoid more serious injury.
Babies and children with brachial plexus palsy may have:
A brachial plexus injury is often found during an exam right after birth. The doctor may order extra tests such as:
The tests help diagnose the injury and help the doctor decide the best treatment.
Our treatment plans include both surgical and non-surgical choices.
Therapy often starts soon after a baby or child is diagnosed with a brachial plexus injury. Therapy may involve stretching and range of motion exercises, splinting or casting, and helping with normal every day activities.
Therapists at Children’s Hospital Colorado work with families/caregivers to create a specific program for each child under the direction of the doctors.
The team may decide to have the rehab medicine doctor inject a medicine called Botox (botulinum toxin) to relax the muscles. If the muscles are relaxed, they are less likely to pull the joints into the wrong position. This procedure is done under general anesthesia (the child is put to sleep) in the operating room.
The team may decide surgery is needed if the brachial plexus injury is severe. The surgeon will decide the best surgery for your child and talk about each of the choices with you (and your child if appropriate).
Every child born with a brachial plexus injury is different. Some injuries are mild and some are severe. As the child gets older, their shoulder, arm and hand may look and move differently from a typical child. Some of these differences are more noticeable than others. The arm may be shorter, smaller and/or not move as well as the arm that was not injured.
At Children’s Colorado, our goal is to make sure that your child gets the best care possible to treat their brachial plexus injury.
Our team at Children’s Colorado provides a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to the care of your child. This means you have access to leading specialists from multiple departments who work together to treat your child.
Your child’s care team includes pediatric experts from:
Children with brachial plexus problems often need ongoing care throughout their lives. The team at the Brachial Plexus Clinic is committed to following patients through childhood and adapting their plan of care as needs change.
Our Hand and Upper Extremity Program team at Children’s Colorado provides a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to the care of your child. This means you have access to leading specialists from multiple departments who work together to treat your child.
Your child’s care team includes pediatric experts from orthopedic surgery, physical medicine, rehabilitation, occupational therapy and nursing.