Brachial Plexus Program
Diagnosis and Treatment
How is brachial plexus birth palsy diagnosed?
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 my child is diagnosed with brachial plexus birth palsy, how soon should we see a specialist?
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 should my child be seen/observed by her orthopedist after her initial appointment?
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.