Brachial plexus birth palsies are a controversial and “hot” topic. Currently, there are advocacy and support groups on the Internet that influence parents’ decision-making process. The goal of this study was to assess the availability, frequency of use, and the effect of the internet and other resources when parents acquire information and make decisions regarding their choice of care for their child with a brachial plexus birth palsy. One hundred and twenty-two surveys were collected over a one year period. Demographic data indicated that 43% parents earned a college degree, 39% graduated from high school and only 3% did not graduate from high school. This data reflects a very highly educated population. Household annual income was also tabulated and correlated with educational level. Individuals who used the internet had significantly more education and greater household earning. Similarly, these parents were more likely to research physicians and surgeons who specialized in brachial plexus birth palsy. A variety of search engines were utilized as well as on-line publications. Many of the internet users felt the information useful. Other resources that were helpful included healthcare providers, occupational and physical therapists.
The internet has become a powerful tool for healthcare consumers. Many people turn to the internet to seek answers on brachial plexus birth palsies and other conditions. Internet users rate the quality of information as good and found the internet useful for brachial plexus palsies. The knowledge obtained from the Internet can be beneficial to the patient or create ambiguous conclusions. The physician who treats children with brachial plexus birth palsies should be aware that families often present to the office with considerable information regarding the condition and potential treatment options. Furthermore, many families have information concerning the various experts in the field and the physician needs to be prepared for pertinent questions. This study has relevance for many of the patients and conditions that we treat.
Brachial, Plexus, Palsy, Internet
J Pediatr Orthop