The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that sends signals from the spinal cord in your neck to your shoulders, arms, hands and fingers. When one or more of these nerves stretches or tears, children may have numbness, a weak grip and trouble moving their arms. At Nemours, our experts are skilled at diagnosing and treating these brachial plexus injuries in kids of all ages, from the tiniest newborns to growing teens.
Brachial Plexus Injury
Helping Children Heal
Conditions We Treat
There are different kinds of brachial plexus injuries. Most brachial plexus injuries happen in newborns during birth if a baby’s neck is stretched to one side. Depending on where the nerve damage is, a brachial plexus injury is sometimes called "neonatal brachial plexus palsy," "brachial plexus birth palsy" or "Erb’s palsy." In older children and teens, a brachial plexus injury can sometimes happen from contact sports, accidents or a medical condition.
Services We Offer
Our team provides a complete range of diagnostic and treatment options for children with brachial plexus injuries. In newborns, mild brachial plexus injuries usually heal on their own. That means babies often regain movement and feeling without treatment. Others might need daily physical therapy. Our physical therapists will show you exercises to do at home to help your baby get better. Massage techniques can help too.
For more severe injuries, our Brachial Plexus and Peripheral Nerve Center includes a team of specialists from:
- orthopedic surgery
- rehabilitation medicine, including occupational and physical therapy
If children keep having pain, weakness or numbness continue, surgery can often help. Our surgical treatments include:
- Nerve grafts: We use a nerve from another area of the body, like a rib or the back of the foot, to patch an injured brachial nerve. A nerve framework from an organ donor or a manufactured nerve growth guide also can help the nerves grow.
- Nerve transfer: A healthy nerve (or some of its fibers) in the area of the injury can restore injured nerve connections.
- Muscle transfer: We take muscle, usually from the child’s thigh, to replace the affected muscle in the arm.
- Tendon transfer: We move tendons from working muscles near the shoulder to increase arm movement and control.
At Nemours, our surgeons are skilled in advanced techniques to restore children’s nerve function.
Why Choose Us
Infants have limited control of their movements, so our doctors’ experience with this type of injury in newborns is especially important. With world-class facilities featuring advanced diagnostic techniques and equipment, we’re here to help give your child the best possible start in life.
Regional Brachial Plexus Highlights
Services, programs and care teams differ at each location. Call for details.
We offer complete care for children with brachial plexus injuries at the Brachial Plexus and Peripheral Nerve Center at Nemours Children’s Hospital (in Orlando). Our surgical team offers a combination of experience and range of surgical options that’s unique in Florida. We try our best to schedule appointments within one week. Because we know you want answers and help for your child as soon as possible.