Nerve Injuries

Anatomy
Nerves provide us with sensory, motor, and autonomic function – the ability to feel sensation, control our muscle actions, as well as maintain our normal body functions (eg. changes in blood circulation and adaptation to temperature).

In the instance of nerve injury, you may experience a paralysis of the muscles, deformities, or an altered capacity to coordinate your movements. You may experience tingling, reduced sensation, or hypersensitivity.

Nerve injuries can occur through lacerations, as a result of fractures, or compression/direct trauma. They can occur at either a high or low level (from the neck, upper arm, or lower within the wrist and hand). Within the upper limb, there are several nerve branches. Those which innervate the muscles within our hand and forearm are primarily the radial nerve, ulnar nerve, and median nerve. Within our fingers we have very fine digital nerves, which branch off the main nerves.

Healing
Nerves have a prolonged healing time frame. Recovery time depends largely on the distance of regeneration required. Literature indicates that nerves regenerate at about 1mm per day, though faster in children, and slower in the elderly, and people who smoke.

With loss of nerve stimulation, muscle fibres can become irreversibly damaged. It is important to see your Occupational Therapist to maintain your muscle health and length during this long term healing time frame.

Therapy
At Hand Works Occupational Therapy we are able to administer sensory and motor assessments, to identify areas of concern and to tailor your therapy based on individual needs. We are also able to perform regular assessments to monitor and record your progress. You may be set a home therapy program to assist with normalising sensation, maintaining muscle length, and increase functional use of your hand and upper limb. Orthoses may also assist you to use your hand in functional tasks if one particular muscle group is weakened through a nerve injury, or to prevent joint contractures from developing.

Nerve pic