Stories about: nerve injury

What parents of musicians should know about upper extremity injuries

Andrea Bauer Thriving lead image nerve injuries upper extremity musicians

When it comes to orthopedic injuries, sports are usually talked about as high-risk activities, but it’s not often we consider the risk that musicians take when playing an instrument for hours every day.

Musicians can get overuse injuries the same way that athletes do, and are at risk for neck and back injuries, as well as shoulder strain. In particular, nerve injuries in the upper extremities are quite common amongst string instrument musicians, as they tend to hold their instruments in abnormal positions for long periods of time.

While parents may not think that their kid playing an instrument could come with potential injury hazards, these conditions can leave a child or young adult in pain and unable to play. Andrea Bauer, MD, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon in the Hand and Orthopedic Upper Extremity Program at Boston Children’s Hospital details how these injuries occur and what parents should look out for.

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Grabbing the reins her own way

Chloe, a roder rider with brachial plexus, rides a horse during a barrel race.
Chloe Neff, a rodeo rider with brachial plexus birth palsy, will compete in barrel racing world championships. 

Barrel racing isn’t for the faint-hearted, that’s for sure.

In this rodeo event, horses and riders whip around barrels at lightning speeds. Tails flourish in the air and muscles ripple. Powerful horses are coaxed by their riders to spin around each barrel as quickly as possible.

One such duo, 16-year-old Chloe Neff and her horse, Raise a Glass Dancer, will soon be on their way to barrel racing’s world championships.

“If you keep trying and working at it, you can do anything you want to,” says Chloe. Her record for completing a barrel course is 16.6 seconds. “Right now, Glass and I are working toward a 15.”

In the Perry, Georgia, stadium where barrel racing world championships will be held later this year, Chloe’s parents may be the only people to notice anything seemingly different about Chloe, as she and Glass flash past the stands. That’s because Chloe, who has received care from the Brachial Plexus Program at Boston Children’s Hospital since she was 5 months old, sustained damage to her left brachial plexus nerve when she was born. The injury jeopardized Chloe’s use of her left shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand.

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