Patients’ experiences following severe, brachial plexus injury: a long-term, qualitative follow-up

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Introduction:Traumatic brachial plexus injuries (tBPIs) that damage the complete plexus (C5-T1) result in major functional disability. tBPIs generally occur as a result of high-speed, motorcycle accidents and affect young men. This patient group also generally have a number of other concomitant injuries that are often life threatening. Advances in surgical procedures are resulting in restoration of physical functioning that was not occurring 3-4 decades ago. Free-functioning muscle transfers (FFMTs)are one such example. However, despite improvements in surgical procedures, tBPI patients report chronic pain, changes in work circumstances, concerns about their appearance, increased reliance on others, and difficulty completing daily activities.This suggests that recovery needs to be considered in a more holistic, and potentially occupationally-meaningful manner.Objectives:1.Investigate the experiences of patients following free-functioning muscle transfersfor management of severe, brachial plexus injuries.2.Better understand issues during recovery and implications for rehabilitation with this population. Methods: A phenomenological, qualitative design was employed that involved 5 participants who underwent surgery between 2007 and 2015. In-depth, semi-structureinterviews were conducted and data were analysed using inductive, thematic analysis.Results: Three, interrelated themes were generated from the data: 1.Re-creating self-concept 2.Perceptions of health care 3.Revised realities and on-going considerations. Conclusion:Collectively these three themes suggest that the experience of FFMT surgery and rehabilitation are critical to recovery, but not able to address the breadth and nature of the challenges and changes occurring post injury and surgery. Recovery following severe, physically disabling injury have long-term, psychosocial consequences. While client-centred approaches are required to best respond toindividual needs following severe injury, common considerations that impact adaptation and re-engagement following tBPI have been identified
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-81
Number of pages1
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2019
EventOccupational Therapy Australia National Conference and Exhibition 2019: Together Towards Tomorrow - International Convention Centre, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 10 Jul 201912 Jul 2019
Conference number: 28th


  • Brachial plexus
  • qualitative
  • patient experiences

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