What is a brachial plexus injury?
The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that run from the neck and shoulders to the hands. These nerves are responsible for controlling the muscles in the shoulders and arms. Injuries to the brachial plexus may be minor, with no lasting effects, or may cause severe and permanent damage.
Brachial plexus injuries can occur during the birth process and result in a wide range of symptoms. Brachial plexus injuries that happen during birth may be called “birth related brachial plexus palsy” or “obstetric brachial plexus palsy.” Brachial plexus injuries occur in about 1% of births.
Brachial plexus injuries are categorized by the type of damage, such as stretching of the nerve, severing of the nerve, or tearing of the nerve. They may occur for a number of reasons, including a difficult labor or improper use of delivery tools.
Erb’s palsy is a particularly common type of brachial plexus injury. “Palsy” refers to a type of damage or deformity that affects muscle control and may cause spasms, stiffness, or other symptoms. Erb’s palsy is a brachial plexus injury that specifically affects the nerves connected to the upper part of the arm. That may cause weakness or paralysis of the shoulder and upper arm, although the child may still be able to move her fingers.
Whatever the cause, brachial plexus injuries may have a serious impact on your child’s life. Click on the links below to learn more