The brachial plexus is a group of nerves that runs from the neck and shoulder through the arm. Damage to the brachial plexus affects the function and sensation of the arm.
What do you need to know about your child’s brachial plexus injury?
1. What can I do to minimize the damage?
Most brachial plexus injuries are minor and will heal on their own. Your doctor may be able to give you gentle stretching exercises to do with your baby to promote proper healing of the nerves.
2. Will my child need surgery?
While mild brachial plexus injuries typically heal within a few weeks, more serious cases require surgical intervention. Ask your doctor what you should be watching for when you take your new little one home. What are the signs that the nerves aren’t healing properly?
Surgeries to repair brachial plexus injuries must be performed fairly early, before the arm muscles degrade too much to repair. Ask your doctor about the time frame for the surgery so you have time to prepare.
3. Will my child need physical therapy?
Physical therapy can help maintain strength and flexibility in the affected arm. Ask your doctor about whether physical therapy is right for your child and ask for a list of qualified physical therapists.
4. What is my child’s long-term outlook?
Severe brachial plexus injuries can permanently impair your child’s ability to use the affected arm. That means your little one may need occupational therapy to learn how to do everyday tasks with one arm.
Every child is unique and your doctor will be able to give you advice tailored to your child’s needs. Don’t be afraid to ask questions until you’re confident that you understand your child’s injury and needs.