Glossary of Terms & Common Abbreviations

Glossary of Terms


Abduction: Movement of the limbs away from the body, such as lifting the arm out to the side

Adduction: Movement of the limbs toward the body, such as bringing the arm close to the body from the side

Anterior: Front

Apraxia: A child with apraxia is often unaware that they are carrying or using their affected limb for a particular task

Avulsion: Tearing away; the nerve root being torn out of the spinal cord is the most severe type of nerve injury

Atrophy: A wasting away, in the size of a cell, tissue, organ or part

Axilla: under the arm; the armpit

Bilateral: Both sides

Brachial Plexus: A network of 5 nerves that extend from the spinal column in the neck down to the fingers

Cervical: The neck area

Clavicle: Collarbone

Contracture: A permanent shortening (as of muscle tendons or scar tissue that produces deformity or distortion)

Electromyography (EMG): A test in which a small needle is inserted, to record electrical activity of the muscles

Extension: The movement of two elements of any jointed body part are directed away from each other (straightened)

Extensor: A muscle that extends or straightens a body part, such as a finger or an arm

Flaccid: Weak, lacking firmness, muscle tone and resilience

Flexion: Moving a joint inward to bring it closer to the body (bend)

Flexor: A muscle that bends or flexes any body part, such as the arm or hand

Horner's Syndrome: A nerve condition which involves a drooping eyelid (ptosis), constricted pupil, enophthalmos (sunken eyeball) and lack of sweating on one side of the face

Hypotonia: low muscle tone, often involving reduced muscle strength

Multidisciplinary Team: a team of medical professionals that work together to support the patient; a multidisciplinary team for brachial plexus specialization would include a pediatric neurologist, rehabilitation physician, specialized and experienced surgeons, OT/PT

Neurologist: A physician who diagnoses and treats disorders of the nervous system

Neurolysis: Surgical removal or part of a neuroma

Neuroma: A benign tumor composed of nerve cells, or scar tissue that forms when there is nerve damage

Nerve grafting: When the gap between nerve ends is so large that it is not possible to have a tension-free repair using the end-to-end techniques or with nerve grafts

Neurotization: This is used generally in those cases where there is an avulsion; donor nerves are used for the repair

Neurapraxia: The nerve has been stretched and damaged but not torn

Occupational Therapist (OT): A health care professional who provides services designed to restore self-care, work, and leisure skills to patients who have specific performance incapacities or deficits that reduce their abilities to cope with the tasks of everyday living

Physiatrist: A physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation; help restore optimal function to people with injuries to the muscles, bones, tissues and nervous system

Physical Therapist (PT): A rehabilitation professional who promotes optimal health and functional independence through the application of scientific principles to prevent, identify, assess, correct, or alleviate acute or chronic movement dysfunction, physical disability, or pain

Posterior: Back

Proximal: Closest

Range of motion (ROM): The range through which a joint can be moved, usually its range of flexion and extension; Active range of motion (AROM) is the active movement of the muscle and Passive range of motion (PROM) is the motion range of a joint through manual assistance

Rupture: Torn nerve or tissue

Supine: Lying on the back

Torticollis: A contracted state of the cervical muscles, producing twisting of the neck and an unnatural position of the head


Common Abbreviations



AAOS - American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

ACOG - American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology

ACR - anterior capsule release

ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

AROM - active range of motion

ASSH - American Society for Surgery of the Hand


BP - brachial plexus

BPBI - brachial plexus birth injury

BPBP - brachial plexus birth palsy

BPI - brachial plexus injury

BPP - brachial plexus palsy


cm - centimeters

CNS - central nervous system

C/S or cs - cesarean section

CT scan (CT) - computed tomography

CT Myelogram - dye injected into the spinal canal with x-rays, fluoroscope, or CT scans to examine it for leaks/tears or damage etc.

C5-C8 - cervical nerves 5-8


DO - doctor of osteopathic medicine


EEG - electroencephalogram

EMG - electromyogram or electromyography

E Stim - electrical stimulation (pulses) to mimic the action of signals coming from neurons, provided by a machine, to target muscles or nerves








LSW - Licensed Social Worker


mcg - micrograms

mg - milligrams 

mm - millimeters

MD - doctor of medicine

MR imaging - magnetic resonance imaging

MRI - magnetic resonance imaging

MR Neurography - MR Imaging of Peripheral Nerves (PNI)


NBPP - neonatal brachial plexus palsy

NCS - nerve conduction study

NIH - National Institute of Health

NP - Nurse Practitioner


OBPI - obstetric OR obstetrical brachial plexus injury

OR - operating room

OT - occupational therapy or Occupational Therapist

OTR - Occupational Therapist Registered


PA - Physician’s Assistant

PACU - post anesthesia care unit (recovery room)

PNI - peripheral nerve injury

PROM - passive range of motion

PT - physical therapy or Physical Therapist



ROM - range of motion


SROM - spontaneous range of motion


TBPI - traumatic brachial plexus injury

TOS - thoracic outlet syndrome

T1 - thoracic nerve 1


UBPN - United Brachial Plexus Network

u/s - ultrasound




Xray - image created of the bones and surrounding structures of the body by electromagnetic waves, usually in a doctor office, clinic or hospital setting



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