The Brachial Plexus Clinic provides care for children who have a problem with the nerves that go to their arm – most often brachial plexus palsy. Our clinic is the only one of its kind for children in the Northwest. A team of providers from many areas of healthcare assesses each child who comes to the clinic. The team includes doctors from our Orthopedics and Plastic Surgery departments, as well as from Neurology and Radiology. Nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, social workers and others also play important roles in caring for children with brachial plexus problems.

Your team creates a treatment plan designed to get the best results for your child. We base our treatment plans on the latest evidence about which treatments are most likely to help and when they should be used. Some children need ongoing care for brachial plexus problems. We follow these patients throughout childhood, adapting their treatment plan as their needs change.

Read more about the Brachial Plexus Clinic in our story "New Hope for Damaged Nerves."

Conditions We Treat

In our Brachial Plexus clinic, we see children with many conditions, including:

  • Brachial plexus palsies usually happen because of a stretch injury to a child's neck and shoulder. This can happen during birth, especially when the birth is difficult or complex. Sometimes a child's shoulder will get stuck against the mother's pelvis. This can cause a stretch injury to the child as they are being delivered. Read more.

  • In older children and young adults, a brachial plexus palsy can occur because of an accident where the neck and shoulder get stretched. Car accidents and sports injuries are two examples. Read more.

  • When nerves in the brachial plexus get damaged, signals cannot travel from the brain to the arm muscles in the usual way. So some or all of a child's arm muscles may no longer work. When this affects only the shoulder and elbow muscles, it is called an Erb's palsy. Read more.

  • Nerves that branch off of the spinal cord are called peripheral nerves. If a tumor forms in the nerves of the brachial plexus, it may keep signals from traveling between the brain and the arm muscles in the usual way. Some tumors do not cause symptoms, but they still need treatment to prevent problems in the future. Read more.

  • A nerve condition that affects the brachial plexus may change how much feeling a child has in their shoulder, arm or hand. Or it may limit how well they can use this limb. These conditions can happen because the nerve is compressed. They can also happen for no obvious reason. Conditions that happen without a known cause are called idiopathic.

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