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Brachial plexus birth palsy can be diagnosed by your baby’s pediatrician upon a thorough medical history and physical examination. Since the majority of babies with a brachial plexus injury recover in the first month to six weeks of life, these exams can be scheduled with a primary care doctor. Children who continue to have problems beyond six weeks should be seen by an orthopedist or brachial plexus specialist.
In addition to a physical exam, doctors may perform special imaging studies, like an MRI or nerve conduction studies. These tests are not as reliable for babies as for adults, and they require anesthesia. If accompanying fractures are suspected, doctors may take an x-ray. It’s important to find an experienced doctor who will be able to track your child’s progress over repeated exams.
Once your child’s pediatrician has made a diagnosis, it’s safe to wait up to four weeks for a comprehensive evaluation by an orthopedist or specialist.
How often your child should be observed depends on her return of function. Typically, she may need to be seen every one to three months until she is 6 months old, then every six months through the time she’s 24 to 36 months old.
Our brachial plexus team has developed innovative non-surgical and surgical treatments for children with all degrees of severity of brachial plexus birth palsy.
Children who continue to have problems after they’re 3 to 6 months old may benefit from one of several surgical options.
Microsurgery (10 to 20 percent of all brachial plexus birth palsy surgery)
Open reduction of the shoulder joint (capsulorraphy)
Free muscle transfers
The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”