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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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Klumpke’s Palsy – Recovery

Klumpke’s Palsy is a condition which primarily affects newborns who have had a difficult birth. It most often occurs when the doctor must take the baby. This condition occurs when the eighth cerebral nerve and first thoracic nerve are damaged at the point before or after they come together.

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The Impact

When the C8 and T1 nerves are damaged, loss of feeling and movement may occur. Though Klumpke’s Palsy most often is seen in newborns, it can happen in other situations as well. A mild injury may show only slight signs of impairment of the hand or arm while more severe injuries may limit movement almost completely.

The damage to these nerves may be slight, such as being stretched out of place. It may also be severe, such as when the nerves are broken from the spine.

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Treatment and Recovery

Treatment for mild damage to the specific nerves may include a gentle range of motion until they heal. For more severe injuries, the person may require surgery to repair them.

Recovery can occur within a few months, and in many instances with newborns, this is the case. You may be asked to do gentle exercises with your baby until the arm heals and can be normally used. During this time, the nerves must regrow, starting from the neck and moving down the arm. Regrowth happens at about one inch per month. Once the nerves have regrown, they must reattach to the original targets in the muscles.

There are some general indicators that recovery is happening. By the third month, the baby should be able to bend the elbow. They may be able to move the wrist and straighten out the fingers, which shows spontaneous healing. In many cases, the baby will continue to heal as you perform the gentle exercises.

Some babies do not completely recover from Klumpke’s Palsy on their own. They may continue to experience limited mobility and sensation. In this situation, recovery is slowed or stopped. To further encourage continued recovery, physical therapy may be prescribed. Several different types of treatments may be used by the therapist to stimulate recovery. In more severe cases of this condition, surgery may be necessary for maximum recovery.

Surgery may be performed to graft nerves to the site or to clean up scar tissue. In some cases, the child does not experience 100 percent recovery but learns to adapt to the maximum recovery they have been able to achieve.