A Brachial Plexus Injury is a nerve injury. The nerves that are damaged control muscles in the shoulders, arm or hand. Any or all of these muscles may be paralyzed.
Here are some examples:
- no muscle control and no feeling in the arm or hand.
- can move arms but have little control over wrist and hand.
- use of hands but no use of shoulder or elbow muscles.
- most severe cases an entire arm is paralyzed and hand and fingers hang limp.
- facial paralysis on affected side.
- inability to sit up without assistance.
- inability to crawl without therapeutic devices.
It is a network of nerves. It conducts signals from the spine to the arm and hand. These signals cause the arm and hand muscles to move.
Most injuries occur during birth while moving through the birth canal. The baby's neck and shoulders may be stretched too far apart, damaging or tearing nerves. The stretching or damage may be caused by forceps delivery in large babies. However, newborns of all sizes, including premature babies can have these injuries.
Avulsion - the nerve is torn from the spine.
Rupture - the nerve is torn, but not where it attaches to the spine.
Neuroma - the nerve has tried to heal itself, but scar tissue has grown.
1 in 1000 births suffer Down Syndrome.
2 or 3 per 1000 births suffer Cerebral Palsy.
1 per 3500 boys suffer Muscular Dystrophy.
1 in 1000 births suffer from Spina Bifida.
3 in 1000 births suffer Brachial Plexus Palsy.
280,000 infants are born with serious disabilities each year.
The Brachial Plexus clinic at Texas Children's Hospital
in Houston, TX evaluates and plans treatment for children who have had
Brachial Plexus injuries.
- Scraping of Neuroma (neurolysis)
- Nerve Grafts - nerves are transplanted to reconnect damaged nerve or nerves.
The clinic continues to research the methods to treat BPP to fully understand every aspect of the injury.
Treatment cannot promise a child will ever have normal use of an
affected hand, but the realistic goal is partial use of an affected
arm or hand.
- bringing affected hand to mouth for feeding.
- use affected arm or hand to help other arm lift and carry objects.