Brachial Plexus Treatment for Children

Brachial Plexus Treatment for Children

When your baby needs medical care, you want the best. If you experience complications during childbirth that cause brachial plexus injuries, trust the specialists with our Brachial Plexus Program to provide expert care and treatment for all kinds of brachial plexus injuries.

Expert Care for Brachial Plexus Injuries

As part of the Brachial Plexus Program at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital OU Health in Oklahoma City, you’ll work with a multidisciplinary team from many healthcare specialties to develop an individualized treatment plan that fits your child’s specific situation. Your child benefits from an accurate diagnosis and comprehensive treatment to restore as much function as possible.

Request an Appointment

Request an appointment to talk with a brachial plexus treatment specialist at Oklahoma Children's Hospital OU Health in Oklahoma City today.

Call (405)271-2244

Brachial Plexus Symptoms & Diagnosis

The brachial plexus is a complex network of nerves that connects the spinal cord in the neck to the arm, and provides sensation and movement to the shoulder, arm and hand.

The nerves of the brachial plexus can be stretched, compressed or torn during a difficult delivery. You or your baby’s pediatrician may notice symptoms of brachial plexus injury, such as:

  • Muscle weakness or paralysis in affected arm or hand
  • Decreased movement or sensation in the arm or hand
  • Inability to lift the arm at the shoulder
  • Inability to flex at the elbow or turn the arm or hand outward
  • Inability to move the arm, wrist or hand

Early diagnosis and initiation of treatment gives your baby the best chance at recovery. Your medical team provides thorough examination and testing to identify the severity, location and type of nerve injury, which may affect all or only part of the brachial plexus.

Physiatrists perform specialized nerve tests and imaging to assess nerve damage. Your baby’s doctor may recommend additional diagnostic tests such as:

  • X-ray – Identifies clavicle (collarbone) fractures that are sometimes associated with brachial plexus injury
  • Electromyography/nerve conduction studies (EMG/NCS) – Documents electrical activity within the injured nerves and can indicate nearby healthy nerves to use as donors
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – Shows stretch and avulsion (tearing) injuries of the nerves

Advanced Treatment for Brachial Plexus

When you choose Oklahoma Children’s Hospital for brachial plexus injury treatment, you and your child work with a multidisciplinary team of experts with the extensive training, experience and skill necessary to repair damaged nerves and restore function.

Physical therapy and occupational therapy

Therapy helps maximize the use of the injured arm and prevents secondary issues like muscle atrophy or joint stiffness. Physical therapy and occupational therapy may be prescribed as a solo treatment or combined with surgery. In addition, your child’s physical or occupational therapist may show you how to perform range or motion (ROM) exercises at home and provide a recommended movement plan.

Surgical repair strategies

Surgical techniques are appropriate for primary repair of these injuries in infants and secondary repair in older children. You and your child’s doctor will discuss the specifics of your child’s situation and determine the best possible surgical procedure to correct nerve damage, which may include procedures such as:

Primary repairs

  • Nerve grafting – Creates a bridge over the injury site, using donor nerves from the infant’s legs
  • Nerve transfers – Uses “strong” nerves to support “weak” nerves by wiring fibers from the strong nerves into the weak nerves

Secondary repairs

  • Muscle lengthening – Lengthens and/or transfers tissue to the affected muscle to improve arm function and decrease the severity of residual shoulder joint deformity
  • Humeral osteotomy – Alters upper arm bone alignment to increase external rotation of the shoulder

Your Brachial Plexus Care Team

At Oklahoma Children's Hospital, your multidisciplinary brachial plexus care team may include highly trained physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians (physiatrists), occupational therapists, physical therapists, pediatric neurosurgeons, plastic surgeons and orthopedic surgeons.

Together, everyone focuses on providing comprehensive treatment and support for your baby and family.