The Brachial Plexus Clinic at Kennedy Krieger Institute is one of the few clinics in the country that offers multidisciplinary services and innovative techniques for the treatment of brachial plexus injuries and peripheral nerve problems affecting infants, children and adults. We see patients who may have either birth-related or traumatic brachial plexus injuries.
Who We Serve:
A brachial plexus injury is an injury to the brachial plexus — a system of nerves that controls the movement of your shoulder, arm and hand. A brachial plexus injury occurs when these nerves have been stretched or even in some cases, torn. These types of injuries are common in contact sports, falls, or auto accidents, but can also occur during an infant’s birth.
We see patients who may have or suspected of having:
- Neonatal (birth-related) brachial plexus palsy
- Traumatic brachial plexus palsy in older children or young adults
- Erb's palsy
- Peripheral nerve tumors
- Idiopathic and other nerve conditions
Adults with a history of neonatal brachial plexus palsy can also benefit from our interdisciplinary approach to assess and, in many cases, improve long-term impairments such as stiffness, over-use syndrome and long-standing compensation.
Each patient is thoroughly evaluated and treated by our team of specialists with extensive experience in areas such as Neurosurgery, Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Occupational Therapy and Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine. The clinic is staffed by:
- Allan Belzberg, MD - Neurosurgery
- John "Jack" Ungari, MD - Orthopedic surgery
- Richard Redett, MD - Plastic/Reconstructive surgery
- Gayle Gross and Jennifer Wingrat - Occupational Therapy
Early intervention is the key to regaining function, since brachial plexus injuries could result in permanent impairments if not treated as soon as possible. Our entire team of specialists evaluates each patient to determine the extent of the injury. The evaluation could also include diagnostic tests such as x-rays, electro-diagnostic studies, MRIs or CT scans.
Treatment for a Brachial Plexus Palsy
After the comprehensive evaluation, each patient receives a customized treatment and therapy program designed to maximize nerve and functional recovery. Follow-up care continues to be provided by the treatment team.
It is difficult to estimate the rate of spontaneous recovery due to the diversity and complexity of these palsies. The potential for spontaneous recovery depends mostly on the severity. Therefore, prognosis must be assessed for each patient individually based on the type and severity of their palsy, and the progression of any spontaneous recovery that may be occurring.
- Non-surgical Treatment Options - Occupational therapy and physical medicine are always part of the recovery process. The Kennedy Krieger Institute not only offers traditional therapies but also the opportunity to receive intensive activity-based restorative therapies (ABRT) to maximize the recovery and neurodevelopmental processes which lead to function and development of adequate and efficient motor patterns.
- Surgical Treatment Options - The degree of functional impairment and potential for recovery depends on the mechanism, type, complexity of the brachial plexus injury, and time from injury. The most important decision your surgeons will make is determining if and when surgical intervention should occur.
“We had a wonderful experience at the Brachial Plexus Clinic at Kennedy Krieger. The doctors were very insightful of our daughter’s injury and guided us in the right direction. They answered all of our questions in great detail and made us more comfortable with the potential outcome.”
“I would recommend Kennedy Krieger to anyone with a brachial plexus injury for occupational therapy as well as the Brachial Plexus Clinic they offer. We had a wonderful experience at Kennedy Krieger Institute.”
Related Materials and Information:
- American Society for the Surgery of the Hand
- Brachial Plexus Palsy Foundation
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
- United Brachial Plexus Network