Brachial Plexus (Pediatric)

Brachial plexus palsy, also commonly referred to as Erb's palsy, affects the nerves passing from the neck to the arm. These are the nerves that trigger movement from the shoulder down to the fingers. Although brachial plexus palsy can heal without medical intervention, it can also result in a lifelong disability if not treated promptly. At the Brachial Plexus Program at the University of Michigan, we offer a multidisciplinary approach to comprehensively treat your child's brachial plexus palsy. Our dedicated team is able to assess your child's needs and recommend a treatment plan in a single visit.

The brachial plexus is a complex network of nerves extending from the neck into each arm. This nerve network controls movement and sensation in the shoulder, arm, wrist, hand and fingers. The most common cause of brachial plexus palsy is a stretching, compressing or tearing of the nerves, which may result in scar formation.

Brachial Plexus Symptoms

Depending on the type of brachial plexus palsy, symptoms appear in the shoulder, elbow and/or hand and fingers. These symptoms include:

  • Loss of feeling
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Limited or no range of motion

At your first visit to our clinic, our team will conduct a thorough evaluation and then present formal recommendations for your child's specific condition. When necessary, electromyography (to measure the electrical activity of your child’s muscles) and other imaging tests can be performed on-site to expedite the evaluation process.

Brachial Plexus Treatment

Treatment of brachial plexus palsy can include observation, occupational and physical therapy, and surgery. Proper treatment requires the combined expertise of several medical and surgical specialties including neurosurgery, hand surgery, orthopaedic surgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation, electrodiagnosis, occupational therapy, and nursing.

Our program members represent all of those specialties. Our occupational therapists, physical therapists, nurses and physiatrists (a physician who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation) direct and coordinate rehabilitation activities that address medical and psychosocial issues related to brachial plexus palsy. Our surgeons rebuild the affected nerves and also perform reconstructive surgery. This multi-disciplinary team approach ensures comprehensive evaluation and timely recommendations are completed during your child’s first visit to our clinic.

Except for specialty services, follow-up care can be done either at the University of Michigan Health System or in your own community. Our coordinators can assist you in establishing care within your own community.

Schedule an appointment by calling us at 734-936-5017.