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Physical and Occupational Therapies

Brachial Plexus and Peripheral Nerve Clinic

How Physical and Occupational Therapy Help Your Child Recover

To help your child recover as much function in the arm and hand as possible after a brachial plexus injury, your child’s doctor will recommend occupational or physical therapy — or both.

Children typically have the best chance to regain function if they start therapy soon after the injury occurs. Therapy encourages movement and helps to prevent joint and muscle stiffness.

At Phoenix Children’s, we offer outpatient therapy for children with brachial plexus and peripheral nerve injuries.

Occupational therapy helps your child:

  • Build fine motor skills (the coordination of nerves, muscles and bones to produce small, precise movements).
  • Practice activities such as writing with a pencil, stacking blocks, coloring, turning pages of a book and cutting out shapes with scissors.
  • Perform activities of daily living, such as getting dressed, brushing teeth and eating a meal.
  • Increase range of motion and strength in the upper body.
  • Learn to adapt toys and activities so they can move and play.

Physical therapy helps your child:

  • Build gross motor skills (the ability to make large, general movements that require proper coordination and function of the nerves, muscles and bones).
  • Maintain or increase arm strength, muscle flexibility and range of motion.
  • Participate in activities such as crawling, sitting, standing, jumping, running, playing sports, riding a bike and swimming.
  • Adapt toys and activities so they can move and play.

Your child’s physical and occupational therapists will work closely with you and your child. Your therapist will show you how to encourage your child to incorporate movement of the arm and hand into age-appropriate games and activities at home.

State-of-the-Art Therapy Interventions for Brachial Plexus Injuries

During the course of your child’s physical and occupational therapy, your therapist may recommend certain bracing devices or advanced stimulation treatments, including:

  • Custom splint fabrication – to support a limp arm and joints.
  • Modified constraint-induced movement therapy – involves using devices to encourage the use of the affected arm, rather than the arm which was not impacted by the injury.
  • Neuromuscular electrical stimulation – to activate nerve fibers, strengthen muscles and prevent muscle loss and tightening.
  • RT300 functional electrical stimulation bike – a cycle for arms and legs that uses mild  electrical current to stimulate the nerves, promote injured nerve regeneration and prevent muscle loss.

Not every child needs these treatments. Your child’s doctor and therapist will help you determine which interventions will be the most beneficial.

If your child has surgery, therapy is essential afterward so we can monitor scarring and help your child maintain range of motion and perform routine tasks.  

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