Launch of a patient support group for Brachial Plexus Injury


Rare surgery performed on a road accident survivor

A rare spinal cord surgery was recently performed on a road accident survivor at Kauvery hospital, Mylapore. Mr. Ramesh, a 33 year old man from Coimbatore, sustained an injury to his left arm in a road traffic accident in 2013. He was diagnosed to have traumatic Brachial Plexus injuries. The Brachial Plexus is the nerve group that provides nerve supply to the entire arm. Dr. G. Balamurali, Consultant Neuro-Spine Surgeon at Kauvery hospital performed DREZ surgery, a nine hour long meticulous procedure in the cervical spinal cord on the 18th September 2017.

Mr. Kiran from Bangalore sustained a similar Brachial Plexus avulsion injury from a road accident and suffered severe pain for 14 long years. He was treated by this procedure, following which he has complete pain relief. Mr. Ananthana sustained a crush injury and was suffering with severe neuropathic pain for 27 years, which did not respond to any medical treatment. He had total pain relief following surgery. Mr. Mohammed, from Hosur, was involved in a road accident and suffered years of pain before this surgery gave him relief.

Addressing the media, Dr. G. Balamurali, consultant Neuro-Spine surgeon at Kauvery Hospital said, “There are several hundred patients with such injuries, who are unaware of the treatment options for brachial plexus injuries that are available. The most common causes of this condition are automobile injury and fall from height. 30-40% of patients with these injuries develop severe pain in the whole limb, either due to spinal cord damage or avulsion of nerve roots from the spinal cord. The pain is typically burning, stabbing, pricking, electric shock like, sharp and continuous. The pain can get worse at times and some patients may develop suicidal thoughts because they are unable to cope with pain. Pain can be aggravated just by talking, movement of any body part, breeze from fan, noise from the surroundings or contact with water while bathing. Some patients are house bound for 15-20 years and have serious psychological issues. They lose their jobs, families, children, friends and social contact.”

He adds, “This specific brachial plexus surgery is performed by very few surgeons in India. Procedures such as nerve grafts to enable movement have been done over years but this particular procedure is rare. This is a high-risk neuro spine surgery, which is technically demanding. Serious side effects like paralysis are possible if the procedure is not done by adequately trained personnel. A team of anesthetist, neurologist and neurophysiologist perform this procedure, which lasts about 8-10 hours. Conditions that involve severe pain from spinal cord injury, cancer pain, post herpetic pain and spasticity from cerebral palsy may all be treated in a similar manner.” We have also performed this surgery on 2 patients with spinal cord injuries and the pain relief has been significant.”

Dr. Aravindan Executive Director of Kauvery Hospital said, “There are a growing number of patients with traumatic Brachial Plexus injury. However, the awareness about the treatment options for Brachial Plexus avulsion injury is lacking here. In India, this holds good for any rare medical problem whereas in the western world there are support groups led by patients themselves. Kauvery Hospital will now facilitate the launch of a patient support group (www.bpisupportgroup.com) as a CSR activity to bring together people with Brachial Plexus Injury.”

“This group will consist predominantly of patients and also some specialists as advisors. People who have suffered from this condition and have undergone treatment will be able to support and guide those who develop a new injury. The caregivers will also need support and the aim is to have a peer support group who can guide them too, apart from the patients. Kauvery hospital will manage this website for a year and then hand it over to a committee that will be formed by the patient group. We will continue to extend all possible support thereafter, wherever required. This will be a big resource site for patients and there is scope for future expansion in terms of financial support for the underprivileged” he added.

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