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Brachial plexus injury: paediatric

Published on 20 June 2023

The Obstetric Brachial Plexus Injury Service (OBPIS) assesses, diagnoses and treats young children with an injury to the brachial plexus region. Complications during childbirth commonly cause these injuries. After assessment in the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, children usually receive therapeutic treatment. Occasionally they need specialist shoulder surgery.

What is an obstetric brachial plexus injury?

This is a common injury in perinatal children who suffer a stretching of the complex of nerves that supply the upper limb (shoulder) as they emerge from the neck. Difficult childbirth is often the reason for the injury. Damage can also arise from other traumatic causes. Sometimes, it's a consequence of tumours in the region of the brachial plexus.

Medical staff and physiotherapists assess children with referral to the service in the outpatient clinic. They reach a diagnosis and likely prognosis. Experts then formulate a management plan. This covers ongoing physiotherapy, investigations when necessary and monitoring of progress.

An outreach clinic is available in Aberdeen to facilitate access to the service by patients from remote areas.

Further information is also available on the Brachial Plexus Injury Service website.