how much do you know about brachial plexus birth palsy ii

In today’s post, we’ll continue exploring some basic background information about brachial plexus birth palsy — or BPBP– a condition that affects anywhere from one to two of every 1,000 babies born here in the U.S., and which can frequently be traced to medical negligence during the delivery.

Please see our previous post to learn more.

Are there different types or forms of BPBP?

Yes, there are different types of BPBP. However, it’s important to understand that the symptoms associated with these differing types of BPBP are generally the same in that the child will always experience some form of limited movement, paralysis and loss of feeling. The significance of these differing degrees comes into play to the extent that it helps determine both projected recovery and treatment options.

  • Neurapraxia: The nerve has been stretched or shocked — but not torn — outside of the spinal cord. This is the most common type of BPBP and typically heals on its own within three months.
  • Neuroma: The nerve has been stretched resulting in the formation of scar tissue that actually presses against the healthy nerve. Significant, but not total, recovery can still occur absent surgical intervention.
  • Rupture: The nerve has actually been torn outside of the spinal cord and cannot heal without surgical intervention. 
  • Avulsion: The nerve has actually been torn from the spinal cord. This is the most serious type of BPBP and cannot be repaired via direct surgical intervention. However, replacement of damaged nerve tissue with the nerve from another muscle (i.e., a nerve transfer) may serve to restore some function.

Stay tuned for future posts in which our blog will examine the exact causes behind BPBP, as well as the available treatment options.

Sources: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “Erb’s Palsy (Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy),” Dec. 2010; Boston Children’s Hospital, ” Brachial plexus birth palsy: In depth,” Sept. 2014

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