Rueb and Motta have helped clients suffering from a catastrophic Brachial Plexus injury. Only one percent of all patients admitted to acute hospitals with multiple traumatic injuries have a brachial plexus injury. Associated injuries include fracture and dislocation of the shoulder, cervical spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injury, and internal thoracic injuries including rib fractures.
The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that combine from the fifth cervical nerve root to the first thoracic nerve root to provide essential functions to the shoulder, arm, and hand. These injuries are most commonly seen in young males and cause devastating neurologic problems that cause life-long disabilities. The deep muscles of the neck and the clavicle protect the brachial plexus, but when injured by blunt trauma, lacerations, direct pressure by bruising, or stretch injuries, the results can be tragic.
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Rueb and Motta are experienced with helping seriously injured clients, we are also proficient in establishing the medical foundation for future needs related to a catastrophic injury in order for a patient to receive a full and fair outcome. Failure to take into account costs related to chronic pain, future medical needs, and future care costs, especially as the patient ages with a disability, will lead to an inadequate and unjust result. Pain and suffering can include, "physical pain, mental suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, physical impairment, inconvenience, grief, anxiety, humiliation, and emotional distress." An attorney must provide evidence of pain and suffering by way of testimony of the patient, care providers, and loved ones like family members and friends, to paint a before and after picture so that the client receives for fair and just compensation for her or his injuries.
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Stretch injuries are the most common injury to the brachial plexus and occur when the shoulder is pressed down, while at the same time, the head is pushed up and away from the shoulder. This stretching of the nerves of the plexus can cause damage to the network of nerves or in the most severe form, cause the nerves to be torn.
Nerve Root Avulsions
Nerve root avulsions to the brachial plexus may involve the portion below the clavicle (infraclavicular) or above the clavicle (supraclavicular). A root avulsion is where the nerves are pulled away from the spinal cord where they emerge.
Supraclavicular vs Intraclavicular Brachial Plexus Injuries
Nearly two thirds of brachial plexus injuries are supraclavicular, which are typically more severe than infraclavicular injuries. Supraclavicular plexus injuries require surgical exploration in nearly half of the cases. In contrast, infraclavicular injuries required surgical intervention in only 17 percent of cases.
Proper medical management requires should be a team of physicians including neurosurgeons, plastic surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, and psychiatrists. Nerve testing should be done during surgery. A client would need to be seen by physical and occupational therapist, psychological services, and catastrophic case managers.
Making things more challenging for survivors and caregivers of brachial plexus injuries, are studies that suggest a delay in surgical exploration and repair of more than four months, leads to a decreased potential for recovery.
Brachial Plexus Damages Awards
Damages awards in brachial plexus patients have ranged from very little to significant. Several factors are the driving factors, including the permanence of injury, the needs for future care and loss of wages/lost earning capacity. Past and future economic damages(lost wages, medical expenses, medical care) and past and future noneconomic damages (pain and suffering) need to be carefully mapped out by a qualified team of litigators who have experience helping catastrophically injured clients. Future medical needs and future economic losses can be a major component of a damages award when person suffers a brachial plexus injury caused by the carelessness (negligence) or wrongdoing of another. There is often a significant vocational impact on these patients which will be a significant factor in determining wage loss or loss of earning capacity. A vocational counselor will address these factors in detail in well-designed life care plan and serve as evidence when proving a client’s damages.