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Brachial Plexus Injury at Birth

The brachial plexus is the network of dividing and anastomosing nerves within the neck and shoulder supplied by the C5, C6, C7, C8 and T1 nerves exiting from the spine. Injury to this structure can occur at birth, and the incidence of this ranges from 0.3 to 2 per 1,000 births. Nothing is as disheartening as injury to an infant during his or her birth. Mother, father and the extended family have awaited the birth with anticipation and joy only to have this dashed, leaving all despairing over the child's disabilities. The natural tendency is to back away from the injury, expecting that it will heal with a little time. While this is frequently the case, experience has shown that infants with this injury can benefit from treatment. Consequently, infants with this injury deserve the attention of a multidisciplinary group specializing in this injury if full recovery has not occurred within the first month of life. What follows is a monograph dealing with injury to the brachial plexus of infants, its history of treatment and how the injury is treated today.