Components of Brachial Plexus Injury Treatment
1. Range of Motion Exercises and Stretching:
- Passive and Active Range of Motion(ROM) in gravity eliminated positions to promote more range of motion as well as anti-gravity positions to increase the muscle strength.
- Moving the child through their typical developmental sequence allows the child to develop shoulder strength and stability as well as to improve overall symmetry.
- It is important to stretch the child multiple time throughout the day, during diaper changes, play and even when they are napping (if possible!). When a child is relaxed, you can gain more range of motion and keep muscles loose so that when they gain active motion, the opposing muscles are not pulling them back.
Range of Motion Exercises
- Static and dynamic splinting of the arm can be useful to reduce contractors, prevent further deformity, and assist movement.
- Commonly prescribed splints include resting hand and wrist splits, elbow extension splints, dynamic elbow flexion and supinator splints.
- Careful selection and timing of splint use is essential to optimization of the desired effect.
- Taping techniques may be used by the therapist to control for scapular instability and to promote improved shoulder mobility.
- To facilitate muscle contraction.
- Weight bearing activities with the affected arm not only provide necessary proprioceptive input, but also can contribute to skeletal growth.
4. Bilateral Motor Planning Activities
5. Sensory Awareness Activities
Active mobility and strengthening early on in the diagnosis of BPI can be facilitated through age-appropriate developmental activities. As the child gets older, standard strengthening exercises can be initiated and specific functional skills introduced. Specific muscle groups can be targeted for strengthening through functional movement.
Compensatory and substitute movements should be avoided as they may perpetuate weak muscles and deformity. Instructing caregivers and family members in a home exercise program is instrumental in effective management for children with Brachial Plexus injuries. In older children with persistent disability, the focus on home instruction shifts to independence with attention to specific activities of daily living, efficiency and fluidity of movement patterns.
Thank you to Stacy Kirsch, Pediatric Occupational Therapist extraordinaire for these helpful Brachial Plexus Injury Treatment Ideas!
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