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Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014
Letter of the Day

Understanding brachial plexus injuries

Published:

The brachial plexus injury community is celebrating its annual International Brachial Plexus Injury Awareness Week. Those of us in the local community of individuals and families affected by brachial plexus — a connection of nerves between the spine, shoulder, arm and hand — injuries implore you to join us in the effort to educate the public about infants injured at birth or others affected by traumatic brachial plexus injuries.

Brachial plexus injuries often occur during the birthing process. Availability of brachial plexus statistics vary widely, but where figures are available the general consensus is that brachial plexus injuries occur in two to five of 1,000 births.

More children suffer from brachial plexus injuries sustained at birth than Down syndrome or Muscular Dystrophy — yet information on this disability is not so readily obtained.

Other causes of brachial plexus injuries include automobile, motorcycle or boating accidents; sports injuries (“burners” or “stingers”); animal bites; gunshot or puncture wounds; and as a result of specific medical treatments/procedures/and surgeries or due to viral diseases. Adults who incur traumatic brachial plexus injuries often suffer from severe and chronic pain and struggle to find support, information and adequate medical care.

Time is of the essence in treating this injury. A brachial plexus specialist must monitor the injury to optimize recovery and minimize residual effects. Immediate therapeutic intervention is critical while the injury is monitored for long-term effects, and the patient or parent must be informed of treatment facilities for further options.

For information about brachial plexus injuries, contact the United Brachial Plexus Network Inc. or visit www.ubpn.org.

Lizbeth Vazquez

Tampa

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