Motion Analytics of Trapezius Muscle Activity in an 18-Year-Old Female with Extended Upper Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy

Jasmine J. Lin, Gromit Y.Y. Chan, Cláudio T. Silva, Luis G. Nonato, Preeti Raghavan, Aleksandra McGrath, Alice Chu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background The trapezius muscle is often utilized as a muscle or nerve donor for repairing shoulder function in those with brachial plexus birth palsy (BPBP). To evaluate the native role of the trapezius in the affected limb, we demonstrate use of the Motion Browser, a novel visual analytics system to assess an adolescent with BPBP. Method An 18-year-old female with extended upper trunk (C5-6-7) BPBP underwent bilateral upper extremity three-dimensional motion analysis with Motion Browser. Surface electromyography (EMG) from eight muscles in each limb which was recorded during six upper extremity movements, distinguishing between upper trapezius (UT) and lower trapezius (LT). The Motion Browser calculated active range of motion (AROM), compiled the EMG data into measures of muscle activity, and displayed the results in charts. Results All movements, excluding shoulder abduction, had similar AROM in affected and unaffected limbs. In the unaffected limb, LT was more active in proximal movements of shoulder abduction, and shoulder external and internal rotations. In the affected limb, LT was more active in distal movements of forearm pronation and supination; UT was more active in shoulder abduction. Conclusion In this female with BPBP, Motion Browser demonstrated that the native LT in the affected limb contributed to distal movements. Her results suggest that sacrificing her trapezius as a muscle or nerve donor may affect her distal functionality. Clinicians should exercise caution when considering nerve transfers in children with BPBP and consider individualized assessment of functionality before pursuing surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-55
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Brachial Plexus and Peripheral Nerve Injury
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 25 2021


  • birth palsy
  • brachial plexus
  • motion analysis
  • motion browser
  • nerve transfer
  • trapezius

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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