Writing this blog has forced me to find out a little more about the exact nature of my injuries. I am told I had a palsy to C5, C6, C7, with C8 and T1 palsied but with recovery. I was lucky that the hand function although lost initially has recovered to some extent.
The injuries resulted in my arm initially being totally paralysed. The arm therapy gradually has brought back some movement to my hand although it is now 18 months since the accident and my injured hand is still very weak compared to my right. I still have little feeling in my thumb and first finger and the feeling is improving in the other fingers. The back of my hand and arm have little feeling, as do parts of my shoulder. However the only loss of feeling that bothers me is the hand.
I had two nerve transfer operations and was exceptionally lucky to be referred to Dr Wheel by the Trauma Unit at the Alfred Hospital. It is amazing that there are some surgeons who you talk to who are unaware of nerve transfer surgery. If you have a brachial plexus injury make sure that you get a surgeon who is up to speed with the latest techniques.
For those interested in the details here are the specifics. Dr Wheel performed two operations of about 7 hours each. In the first about 3.5 months after the accident he did a double nerve transfer for left elbow fexion (bending). The ulnar nerve was moved to the bicep and the median nerve was moved to brachialis. This meant that in the future I had to clinch my fist to activate the bicep and brachialis muscles. The second operation was exactly 4 months after the accident. The accessory nerve was transferred to the suprascapular nerve and the two tricep nerves from the long and medial muscle heads were transferred to the anterior branch of the axillary nerve. This meant that shoulder shrugs and arm extension activated a range of arm and shoulder movements.
The future will revolve around making sure that the nerves in my shoulder grow and that the muscles gradually grow and regain there strength.