What is the Brachial Plexus?
The brachial plexus (Plexus: Latin“braid”) is a network of nerves in the neck and shoulder region. They pass from the spinal cord in the neck, under the clavicle (collar bone) into the upper arm. These nerves carry electrical signals from the brain and the spinal cord, to the muscles and skin of the shoulder, arm and hand to provide movement and sensation (feeling) in your arm.
The plexus is formed by 5 nerve roots which exit the spinal column in the neck, four named after the lower cervical (C) vertebrae (C5, C6, C7and C8), and the fifth root from the first thoracic (T) vertebra (T1). The roots join to form three trunks the upper middle and lower trunk. Each trunk then divides into an anterior and posterior division. The divisions then join to form three cords, lateral, posterior and medial before finally splitting to form the major nerves of the arm. These nerves enable the signals that allow movement and sensation to reach the arm. If any part of the path of the nerve is injured then signals from the brain will not reach the individual muscles in your arm and those muscles will not work.
Types of injury.
Damage to the Brachial plexus may result from a variety of incidents.
- Traumatic Injury – Injury resulting from high energy impacts. For example, motor vehicle collision or a fall from a significant height
- Shoulder Dislocation
- Obstetric Brachial Plexus Injury – Erb’s palsy/ Klumpke palsy – Resulting from traction forces during labour.
- Parsonage-Turner Syndrome
There are many factors that will affect the way that your injury is managed.
In some cases, it is possible that the nerve will recover spontaneously to some extent. In these cases no surgical intervention is needed. Physiotherapy is necessary to preserve the length and quality of the muscle whilst awaiting re-innervation of the target muscles.
Recovering nerves have to grow from the neck, through the brachial plexus, past the injury site and through the length of the nerve into the muscles and sensory receptors. Nerves grow at an average of 1mm per day but will take longer to grow through nerve grafts and across any sites of repair.
As the nerve starts to recover, the team at MOTIONrehab will use the latest technological rehabilitation devices to help facilitate your optimum recovery.
We have significant experience in the rehabilitation of the upper limb following all surgical options to re-animate the arm, including nerve grafting, nerve transfer, tendon transfer and free functional muscle transfer.
Following an initial examination and discussion, we will help you establish realistic goals and facilitate your rehabilitation program using the latest technology to assist your recovery. We can lead your rehabilitation program or complement the treatment you receive in the NHS.
We are happy to discuss your individual needs.
For more information or to book an assessment, please call MOTIONrehab’s Client Services Team on 0800 8600 138 or email: [email protected]