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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

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Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

the guide

Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

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Acupuncture and Brain Injuries

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Brachial Plexus Injuries

Birth brain injuries can have a serious effect on the growth and development of babies. In some cases, the injury may be temporary and will heal and repair themselves on their own. There are other times when medical intervention is required to correct the damage done and to restore function to limbs after a difficult birth. Nerve damage sustained may need to have a surgical intervention and/or physical therapy to restore complete range of motion to a baby’s shoulders and arms.

Elk & Elk

Acupuncture as Treatment

Acupuncture can be used in conjunction with other therapies to help stimulate the muscles, tendons, and joints to aid in an improved range of motion in infants. As therapists (and you) work on stretching exercises to encourage nerves to heal themselves, gentle massage may be applied to pressure points to improve mobility to the affected area.

When used as a treatment for infants, needles are not used like in traditional acupuncture methods for adults. Instead, the following techniques are used:

  • Kneading – Using fingers to knead pressure points in a circular rotation to relieve pressure in affected areas.
  • Pressing – The palm or the thumb are used to press down on a specific area to relieve pain and discomfort and to stimulate nerves.
  • Nipping – Gentle pressure from the thumbnail is applied to pressure points to relieve pressure on nerves.

Electroacupuncture is a method in which electronic pulses are sent through needles placed at the affected area to stimulate the nerves. While this can be an effective method for adults, the skin of an infant is much too delicate to be pricked with needles. It should be noted that in terms of acupuncture, gentle massage is typically used for newborns and infants.

The key to acupuncture is to apply gentle pressure to specific areas to get nerves stimulated and working again. It could aid in preventing joints from contracting and aid in loosening stiff limbs. Traditional acupuncture could be excessive for infants to tolerate in the sense that you do not want to subject them to pain and at their young age as they are unable to tell you if needles cause them distress.

A way to use acupuncture as a treatment is to combine it with other therapies like physical and occupational. When combined with a range of motion activities, shoulder alignment, encouraged arm and hand use, it could be beneficial to your baby. It may be necessary for your infant to have a combination of different techniques to get the best results.

It is also important to remember that acupuncture techniques may require the consent of your child’s physician. If you are given approval for the treatment, you should have it done by a professional, or you should ask the physical or occupational therapist to show you some gentle massage techniques you can use on your baby safely. You do not want to risk causing further damage to the brachial plexus birth injury.