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What Determines the Severity and Outcomes of Brachial Plexus Injury?

How severe a brachial plexus injury is depends on two things:

  • the number of nerves affected
  • the amount of injury to the nerve
Although five nerves make up the brachial plexus, in many instances, the first two are the ones that are injured. When this occurs, the muscles stimulated by these nerves become weak or paralyzed, resulting in a condition called Erb's palsy. If all of the nerve roots are affected, then the arm becomes completely paralyzed.
 
If the nerve has been stretched slightly and the bruise is mild, often it will heal completely and your child
will regain the use of the muscle quickly. When multiple nerves are stretched or pulled, they may not regenerate and a scar may result. When this happens, the muscle becomes very weak, resulting in ongoing paralysis and a longer recovery.
 
It's difficult to predict whether there will be long-term effects to the arm. If the return of function is rapid, this usually is a good sign. Typically, most recovery of muscle strength occurs in the first year of life. Ultimately, most children are able to use their arms and hands to function in daily life. However, some residual weakness may remain.
Last Update
February 22, 2013
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Last Update
February 22, 2013
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