Traumatic Injuries

I had the nerve surgery after my accident. How quickly do nerves regenerate?

Nerves grow, or regenerate at a rate of about 1 inch per month.  The nerves need to grow from the point of damage to the finger tips.  Because the nerves grow slowly, this can be a long process.

What are some ways to handle manual tasks?

Many have found that just asking for help is a challenge but in the long run, it makes things easier.  Usually you can be very creative and use your legs for many different things, your thighs can in a sense replace an arm for opening jars, or you can use your knees to hold something down to work on it.  There isn’t anything we can’t do; we just do them a bit differently!

What resources are available to help me return to school?

Many schools offer assistance with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).  You can go to the counseling center at your school or university and get assistance there. They are people that can take notes for you and even write your exams.

Do I need my car adapted to drive?

For most of us, driving a manual car is out of question.  Driving an automatic is very possible.  Some people get their cars adapted with knobby balls (suicide knob) for the ease of turning.  Some have chosen a control that works wipers, blinkers, and lights.  Others have chosen not to adapt at all.  It depends on your state’s (country’s) regulations (check on those) and how comfortable you feel driving.

Why doesn't my arm work?

Your arm is not working because you have some damage to the brachial plexus, the network of nerves that sends signals from the spine to the arm and hand. These signals cause the arm and hand muscles to move. (Brachial means arm, and plexus refers to a network of nerves.)

What are the diagnostic tools for determining extent of injury?

There are several which look for sensory and motor changes in the affected limb. They include EMG (electromyography), which utilizes a needle electrode inserted into the muscle to measure the ability of the muscle to respond to the electrical impulse, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan and possibly CT Myelogram, where contrast dye is injected into the spine and scanned to see if there is leakage from the spine or other indicators of damage.  Surgical exploration may be scheduled to physically examine the extent of injury.

Why do I feel pain when I have no movement?

Pain sensations normally come from activity generated in terminals of certain sensory nerves. When these are stimulated, they respond by increasing their rate of activity.  The nervous system then interprets this as pain. If an injured area develops ongoing spontaneous activity the patient suffers “neuropathic pain”.   Neuropathic pain results from injury to the nerve and often persists long after healing. It is commonly described as a burning or stabbing pain, sometimes feeling like lightning.

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