The brachial plexus is the network of nerves in the neck that extend to and from the spinal cord to control the functions of the arms. These nerves signal the brain to provide movement and sensation to the shoulders, arms and hands. Injury to the brachial plexus or any of the other peripheral nerves can be caused by a traumatic event such as during the obstetrical birthing process (one of the most frequently encountered peripheral nerve injuries by a pediatric neurosurgeon) or when the nerves get stretched, pulled, or separated through any other traumatic event. Trauma-based brachial plexus and peripheral nerve injuries benefit from our approach because they receive comprehensive medical, surgical and psychosocial options throughout their ongoing evaluation. Nerves can also be injured through chronic compression as is seen with carpal tunnel syndrome or thoracic outlet syndrome.
Peripheral nerves are part of the peripheral nervous system which connect our brains and spinal cords to the entire human body. These nerves control the functions of sensation (how we feel), movement and motor coordination (how we move).
In a comprehensive clinic such as the one at WVU Medicine Children’s, the multidisciplinary team provides the initial and ongoing evaluation, management and treatment for newborns, infants and children with brachial plexus and other peripheral nerve injuries. Collaboration is key for our pediatric neurologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedists, plastic surgeons and occupational and physical therapists as we offer the latest treatments and surgical interventions to our patients.
Conditions We Treat
Our Brachial Plexus and Peripheral Nerve Clinic covers many conditions. As you are researching conditions and treatments, we want to provide you with the information you need without overwhelming you.
Brachial plexus injuries
- In young children, brachial plexus and resultant upper extremity injury due to difficult birth
- Brachial plexus injury from all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), motorcycles/ motorbikes, falls, sports injuries, etc.
- Peripheral nerve injury from trauma or during other surgical procedures
- Acute and chronic peripheral nerve injury
- Thoracic outlet syndrome – neurogenic or vasogenic
- Nerve Tumors: schwannomas, neurofibromas
- Plexiform neurofibromatosis We cover many more conditions than the ones listed here. Please, feel free to contact us with any questions. We are ready to help.
Fortunately, most peripheral nerve injuries will resolve on their own. Physical or occupational therapy and time can also greatly help the damaged nerves to likely heal themselves. However, if by two to three months from the time of injury there is insufficient recovery of function, then surgery may need to be considered.
The results for brachial plexus and peripheral nerve injuries at WVU Medicine Children’s and the few other institutions offering this care show that between 40-80 percent of patients will see significant improvement and recover functional use of the arm or affected area. Following a secondary surgery, all our patients will have some level of improvement. Complications are few, with a rate of less than 3 percent.