Surgical Treatment of Pediatric Upper Limb Spasticity: The Shoulder

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The shoulder joint is essential for placing the hand in a functional position for reach and overhead activities. This depends on the delicate balance between abductor/adductor and internal/external rotator muscles. Spasticity alters this equilibrium, limiting the interaction of the upper limb with the environment. Classically, pediatric patients with upper limb spasticity present with an adduction and internal rotation contracture of the shoulder. These contractures are typically secondary to spasticity of the pectoralis major and subscapularis muscles and sometimes attributed to the latissimus dorsi muscle. Fractional lengthening, Z-step lengthening, or tendon release of the contributing muscle groups may help correct the adduction and internal rotation contractures. With proper diagnosis, a well-executed surgical plan, and a consistent hand rehabilitation regimen, successful surgical outcomes can be achieved.

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