Anatomy of the Brachial Plexus in Infant - Medical Illustration, Human Anatomy Drawing
This medical exhibit depicts the anatomy of the brachial plexus in an infant from an anterior (front) view. A head and torso of the baby are shown with a schematic view of the spinal cord and nerve roots for C5, C6, C7, C8 and T1. In addition, there are corresponding color-coded areas showing the regions of the shoulder, arms and upper thorax affected by damage to the nerve roots, as is seen in a shoulder dystocia birth injury during delivery.
What is a Brachial Plexus Injury?rnThe brachial plexus is a network of nerves that conducts signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm, and hand. Brachial plexus injuries are caused by damage to those nerves. Symptoms may include a limp or paralyzed arm, lack of muscle control in the arm, hand, or wrist, and lack of feeling or sensation in the arm or hand. Although injuries can occur at any time, many brachial plexus injuries happen during birth: the baby’s shoulders may become impacted during the birth process causing the brachial plexus nerves to stretch or tear. There are four types of brachial plexus injuries: avulsion, the most severe type, in which the nerve is torn from the spine; rupture, in which the nerve is torn but not at the spinal attachment; neuroma, in which the nerve has tried to heal itself but scar tissue has grown around the injury, putting pressure on the injured nerve and preventing the nerve from conducting signals to the muscles; and neuropraxia or stretch, in which the nerve has been damaged but not torn. Neuropraxia is the most common type of brachial plexus injury.rnrnIs there any treatment?rnSome brachial plexus injuries may heal without treatment. Many children improve or recover by 3 to 4 months of age. Treatment for brachial plexus injuries includes occupational or physical therapy and, in some cases, surgery.rnrnWhat is the prognosis?rnThe site and type of brachial plexus injury determine the prognosis. For avulsion and rupture injuries there is no potential for recovery unless surgical reconnection is made in a timely manner. For neuroma and neuropraxia injuries the potential for recovery varies. Most patients with neuropraxia injuries recover spontaneously with a 90-100% return of function.rnrnWhat research is being done?rnThe NINDS conducts and supports research on injuries to organs and networks within the nervous system, such as the brachial plexus. Much of this research is aimed at finding ways to prevent and treat these disorders. rnrnSource: The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokernNational Institutes of Health, May 2, 2003.