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JRPMS Vol 5, No 2, June 2021, p.71-78

doi: 10.22540/JRPMS-05-071


Review Article

Physiotherapy management of obstetric brachial plexus palsy: A systematic review of the literature

Kyriaki Tsafa1, Christos Zafeiris2

  1. National Rehabilitation Center EKA-KAT, Athens, Greece
  2. Laboratory of Research of the Musculoskeletal System, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, KAT Hospital, Athens, Greece

Keywords: Conservative management, Obstetric brachial plexus palsy, Occupational therapy, Physiotherapy, Rehabilitation


Obstetric brachial plexus palsy (OBPP) is a pathological situation that is defined as a birth complication with the frequency of occurrence 1-3 per 1000 live births globally. The prime mechanism of injury is the complexion and/or traction of the brachial plexus and may occur in utero through the birth canal or during the process of delivery. This pathology can result in a variety of injuries with that affect the range of motion, the mobility and the use of the upper limb. Management alternatives for the treatment of OBPP consist of non-operative and operative treatment. There is a controversy regarding the selection of the appropriate rehabilitation method for the management of OBPP. The objective of the current research is the search of the literature for the current scientific evidence about the effectiveness of physiotherapy as a conservative method of treatment of infants with OBPP. According to current literature the physiotherapy methods that were used varied form passive exercise to splints and traction. There is little evidence regarding the use of physiotherapy as a primary method of conservative management of OBPP, there is need for more research to elucidate their role