Upper Extremity Program for Kids

For immediate release: July 11, 2014

Children’s Arms in Strong Hands with Unique UMMC Program

When CJ was born, it soon became evident that one of his palms faced upward and he couldn't bend his elbow. But only after his parents brought the child to University of Maryland Children's Hospital — which boasts the only dedicated pediatric upper extremity program in the region — was the boy properly diagnosed and treated, undergoing two operations that now allow virtually normal use of his arm and hand.

About 10% to 15% of the infants, children and adolescents treated each year in the unique program are born with differences of their arms and hands that result in problems with bones, joints, muscles, tendons or ligaments anywhere from the shoulder to the fingertips. Some of these conditions, while congenital, aren't necessarily obvious at birth, according to Joshua M. Abzug, M.D., assistant professor of orthopaedics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

"Some differences aren't noticed until the child or adolescent attempts a specific task and has difficulty and it becomes apparent there's something different about the limb," Dr. Abzug explains. "Or they may have lived with it for a time without treatment. But a lot of differences are visual, meaning upon exam of the child, we can provide a diagnosis as well as observe the associated difficulties."

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