BENGALURU: When 3-month-old Vaishnavi was born, she could not move her left upper limb and shoulder. Her nerves connecting the neck to the upper limb, called brachial plexus, had got stretched and injured during labour. This left the limb completely paralysed.
Doctors at Manipal Hospital conducted five-hour microsurgery three weeks ago, to treat the rare condition called Brachial plexus birth palsy. They reconstructed the nerves by taking some from the leg to fill in the gap in the neck region, where the nerves were injured.
In a similar case, Diya, who was born weighing 3.59 kg (heavy for a newborn) in the 10th month of pregnancy, suffered from damage to three nerves in the same region during labour, causing paralysis of her right hand.
“She was not able to move. Physiotherapy too did not work. She got operated at age of eight months, and improved significantly. When she was two-and-a-half years old, another surgery was done for rotation of hand and wrist. After physiotherapy, her condition improved by 80 per cent. When she grows up, she will have a normal hand,” Vivek, Diya’s father, said, at a media interaction with families of kids who underwent surgery. “Now she can play, and use her hand. She will now start pre-school,” Babera, Diya’s mother, added.
Many others said they were unaware about the treatment. Also, they could not find specialised care in all hospitals. This resulted in delay in treatment by even one-and-a-half years.
“The recovery can be seen in six months post-surgery, during which, time physiotherapy is also done. It is not an overnight process and improvement happens until two to three years of age,” Dr Bharat Kadadi, specialist, hand, wrist and microvascular surgeon at Manipal Hospital, Malleshwaram, said.
“Some of the symptoms that can be immediately spotted after birth are no movement of the upper arm or hand, decreased hand grip/movements on the affected side and bent arms at the elbow region,” Kadadi added.