Monday, October 19, 2015

Brachial Plexus Injury Awareness Week 2015

     Brachial Plexus Injury Awareness Week is October 18-25. During this week, I, and several other people affected by brachial plexus injuries work extra hard to spread awareness. I am passionate about sharing awareness for a couple of different reasons. 1) AWARENESS - I had never even heard of a brachial plexus before my son was born, much less on how to prevent a brachial plexus injury. 2) Acceptance - I want people to know about the condition, what it means, and how they can help so that they can still see my son as Colsen, not "the boy with an injured arm."
     This week, what I am doing to help raise awareness is tagging images with an "Erb's Palsy Awareness" ribbon. I'm doing these for anyone who wants one. I hope to make at least 100, and I love to see them used as a profile picture on Facebook... or anywhere.
     So what IS a brachial plexus injury? A brachial plexus injury is an injury that happens to the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus consists of a bundle of nerves located on each side of your spine near the collarbone. The injury is caused when nerves of the brachial plexus are stretched.
     What does this mean? When the nerves are damaged, there are a variety of things could happen.
Depending the severity and individuality, the arm  could be paralyzed, numb, tingly, painful, etc... Often you'll see children with a "waiter's tip."
     There are different kinds of brachial plexus injuries. Obstetric brachial plexus injuries are brachial plexus injuries that happen at birth. - often associated with shoulder dystocia and/or incompetent OBGYNs. OBPIs usually heal within the first couple years with the assistance of physical therapy.
     Traumatic brachial plexus injuries are brachial plexus injuries that happen later in life. These are sometimes related to motorcycle accidents. Traumatic brachial plexus injuries are much less likely to heal.
     How can we prevent an obstetric brachial plexus injury from happening? Since most obstetric brachial plexus injuries happen with shoulder dystocias, our goal is to prevent a shoulder dystocia. Talk to your doctor. Ask him how often he comes across shoulder dystocias and his way of releasing the dystocias and ask about ways to prevent it from happening. Do not give birth on your back. This decreases the vaginal walls by up to 30% increasing your risks of a shoulder dystocia.
     If you'd like to help spread awareness, feel free to share this post and/or some of the photos provided. These are NOT my property. I've seen them around the Internet and collected them over time.