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Brachial Plexus Injury in Sports Medicine Follow-up

  • Author: Thomas H Trojian, MD; Chief Editor: Sherwin SW Ho, MD  more...
 
Updated: Nov 26, 2014
 

Return to Play

Clinical findings are key in determining an athlete's possibility of returning to play. Full recovery of affected muscles must be determined to prevent further injury and recurrence of burner syndrome. Athletes in contact sports involving the neck should be able to support their weight at the neck leaning at a 45° angle. If this is possible without symptoms, then return to play is highly probable.

Some athletes may have very mild residual asymmetry in strength as a result of the initial injury. Close attention should be paid to the degree of disparity in extremity strength as the athlete returns to participation. Serial EMGs may be of little utility in this setting, as EMG changes can persist for months to years. However, in the setting of an acute change in strength pattern, reassessment may be warranted.

Recurrent stingers warrant assessment of equipment, inclusion of a cowboy collar for football players, and the coach to assess tackling technique.

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Complications

Chronic burner syndrome

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Prevention

Use protective equipment (eg, neck rolls, air cushions) in football players. Proper technique in contact sports (eg, tackling) is necessary, and improper methods (eg, spearing) should be discouraged. Coaches and referees involved with heavy contact sports also should discourage unnecessary tackling and contact. Cervical and paracervical muscular strengthening and conditioning are recommended.

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Prognosis

Prognosis is good, yet some possibility of chronic symptoms may remain.

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Education

For excellent patient education resources, visit eMedicineHealth's First Aid and Injuries Center. Also, see eMedicineHealth's patient education articles Shoulder and Neck Pain and Neck Strain.

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Thomas H Trojian, MD Professor of Family Medicine, Sports Medicine Fellowship Director, Department of Family Medicine, Associate Chief, Division of Sports Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine; Lead Team Physician, Drexel Athletics

Thomas H Trojian, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Sports Medicine, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, Society of Teachers of Family Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Melissa Mascaro, MD Fellow in Sports Medicine, University of Connecticut School of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Chief Editor

Sherwin SW Ho, MD Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, Section of Orthopedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Chicago Division of the Biological Sciences, The Pritzker School of Medicine

Sherwin SW Ho, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Arthroscopy Association of North America, Herodicus Society, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine

Disclosure: Received consulting fee from Biomet, Inc. for speaking and teaching; Received grant/research funds from Smith and Nephew for fellowship funding; Received grant/research funds from DJ Ortho for course funding; Received grant/research funds from Athletico Physical Therapy for course, research funding; Received royalty from Biomet, Inc. for consulting.

Additional Contributors

Janos P Ertl, MD Assistant Professor, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine; Chief of Orthopedic Surgery, Wishard Hospital; Chief, Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy, Indiana University School of Medicine

Janos P Ertl, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Association, Hungarian Medical Association of America, Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgements

The authors and editors of Medscape Reference gratefully acknowledge the contributions of previous authors Federico E. Vaca, MD, FACEP, and Oniel Young, BS, to the development and writing of this article.

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