Jun 26, 2018
Transcript for this episode is found under the pic
Ron is a co-host of PodcastDX, he was injured as a child when he was struck by an automobile. He survived the critical injuries but a permanent deficit of his brachial plexus nerve bundle remained. Although he does not have the use of his right arm, he continues to take on challenge after challenge. His latest goal is to compete in the 2020 Paralympics! We certainly support his drive to excel, and hope to see him on the podium for that event accepting his first medal!
Episode 13 Brachial Plexus .mp3
Ron [00:00:19] Hello and welcome to PodcastDX the show that brings you interviews with people, just like you whose lives were forever changed by a diagnosis. This podcast is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen and never disregard professional medical advice or delay it in seeking because it's something you have heard on this podcast.
Lita [00:00:58] I'm Lita.
Jean [00:00:59] I'm Pokémon.
Lita [00:01:00] . Pokey man?
Ron [00:01:04] And I guess I'm Ron. I am one of the co-hosts and also today's guest.
Lita [00:01:10] Yes. Yay Ron. Collectively we are the hosts of podcast D X and Ron we will not make you ask questions as well as answer them today because that would be a whole different theme show under DSM 5.
Ron [00:01:24] I do appreciate that thank you very much.
Jean [00:01:27] The topic for today is rather complex so bear with me a moment. The actual injury we will discuss is a brachial Plexus Avulsion and a secondary topic is living a full life with any type of disability from handling bullying as a child to searching for a job as an adult. The first brachial plexus is a network of nerves that sends a signal from your spinal cord out to your shoulder arm and hand.
Lita [00:01:54] That's correct. It's a bundle. Or like Jean said a network of nerves starting at c5 going down to T1. So it's C5 C 6, c7 c 8 and T1 there are five of them coming from the spinal cord going out through each shoulder down to the arm and the fingers they connect and they run all the way to the fingers and they separate and rejoin as they do this so they'll be like opening up closing back together. It's it's a nerve bundle. Now if. Part of the nerve bundle is stretched or compressed possibly through contact sports like wrestling or football. The individual can feel an electric shock or a burning sensation down the arm or a numbness or weakness in the arm. For minor injuries the symptoms could last well maybe a couple of seconds a couple of minutes they might linger for days but in a more severe injury called an avulsion the nerve root is actually torn from the spinal cord where it originates. This might happen in a motor vehicle accident or other trauma. And Ron was a youngster when his occurred. It affected his right arm which never recovered from what must have been a complete tear.
Ron [00:03:15] That's pretty much true. I was so young at the time. I. I didn't get any information from the doctors. I mean we've had like almost 50 years ago.
Lita [00:03:26] Yeah that's, that's probably hard to remember that.
Jean [00:03:29] Right in when you get injured as a young child it must be you've had been a very frightened time for you and for your mother as well.
Ron [00:03:37] Well to be honest for me I don't really have any recollection. I think I was maybe too young or something that maybe just blocked out of my mind. I was four…
Ron: … when the accident happened but for my mom, I'm sure it was much more of a traumatic event. Anybody who's a parent out there when something happens to your child it’s like...
Lita [00:04:07] it's your whole world.
Ron [00:04:07] yeah Because you're her child.
Ron [00:04:07] Yeah right.
Ron & Lita [00:04:08] Your whole world.
Ron [00:04:09] The responsibility and all that whether or not it's your fault or not. So yeah I'm sure it's probably much harder on the mom. But again for me as a kid I don't recollect any of it whatsoever.
Lita [00:04:25] ok, We've had many medical advances since the what, this would be like the 1960s that this has happened.
Ron [00:04:32] Somebody said you know, I'm not that old (Laughter)
Lita [00:04:33] I'm sorry about that. ( laughter )But again we're dating myself and treatment protocols are more aggressive now with the use of nerve transplants. This injury is more common than you would think during birth when the baby's shoulder has trouble passing under the mother's pubic bone. And the doctor has to do significant manipulation of the baby in order to allow the birthing process to take place. The resulting injuries called Herb's palsy depending on the severity of the injury it can also be a lifelong detriment or it could clear up on its own in time or with the new surgical procedures and techniques like nerve transplant.
Jean [00:05:13] That's right. Obstetrical brachial plexus injuries happened about four out of a thousand births. It's not it's common but it's not all that common in parents probably don't even hear about it unless it happens to their child breech deliveries force babies arms to stretch up over their head during birth and that can be one of the causes.
Ron [00:05:32] It's pretty interesting I’m sure that the new mothers out there or mothers to be are going to be thinking about this right now.
Jean [00:05:40] Yeah.
Ron [00:05:41] And of course we know that the brachial plexus injury have been very contact sports like football hockey and wrestling.
Jean [00:05:47] Or even high jumps.
Lita [00:05:49] ohhh High Jumps, . The only data I could find was dated 1990s where it was reported to be the most common injury during contact sports with two point two per hundred players incurring this injury during their time playing sports. And that's across the board. That's all sport players from youngsters up to professional athletes when the injury occurs the athlete feels a sharp burning or stinging pain hence the common names burner or Stinger radiating from the Super Clavicular area down the arm to the hand. This is accompanied by numbness or tingling of the upper extremity.
Jean [00:06:29] I think everyone's felt something comparable to this at some point in their lives if they never hit their elbow.
Lita [00:06:34] Right.
Jean [00:06:34] Sharply. And you feel that selection faint tingling painful feeling and that's the nerve being hit at that point. There are actually several forces at work when a youngster has a traumatic accident on a plus size because the nerves and muscles are still developing there's always a chance for some recovery with just given time and possibly with physical therapy. Also if the incident occurs very early on the child may learn to adapt well with this and automatically without even realizing that there is maybe a deficit or something they'll just be able to adapt and learn around it. And if it's all you've ever known well then it's your own level of normal. And Ron I think that is what you're saying. You were saying before the show that you're used to it.
Ron [00:07:21] Well yeah that's right. Because the accident it had happened so long ago and I was so young I never really learned how to do something. Another way. I grew up learning how to do things that I did with we'll be getting into that but I learned how to do them the way I learned how to do them. So that was my normal. But it's a lot different for people who are older that have to adapt. Yes I'd become their new normal. But the older you are the more you're used to doing it one way then you need to change what you're doing to a different way to adapt to you know whatever happened. A lot of times that becomes much more difficult for people because they have to relearn how to do something.
Jean [00:08:08] Right.
Lita [00:08:09] Right. So you're injury because it was so young and it resulted in atrophy of your right arm. You just adapted to life without it and because it happens so young you really didn't even realize that. It was there or wasn't there. And what you might have been missing is that right.
Ron [00:08:26] Right. I wouldn't call it adapting, because I didn't know any other way you know what I mean I guess you could say it wasn't happening but because I didn't know you just said hey this is how it works for me right.
Jean [00:08:39] Right. Well as a youngster did your friends or family members ever treat you differently. Were you ever bullied or were you just one of the guys.
Ron [00:08:48] You know looking back. Family wise not always always encouraged to do stuff. I've always played sports as a kid growing up. I would have been playing baseball softball and baseball in my mid 30s. I played a lot of different sport. I never really had that from my family at all and from kids growing up I guess if I look back it probably was some but because I was doing a lot of the same sports activities as my parents and my friends I didn't look at it that way or I wasn't getting as much as some people may get.
Jean [00:09:31] OK. And in no matter what happened you persevered and you've kept your positive attitude throughout and I'm sure your family had a lot to do with your attitude and always looking you know to succeed and that's you know obviously their support is extremely important.
Ron [00:09:49] Oh absolutely my family's been great. I never ever. Had things. Given to me differently or told I couldn't do something for fear of get hurt or told you should'nt try this. I was always encouraged or maybe not encouraged, but my mom or my family would always be behind you when I said you could do stuff. Never surprised when they tried to do something new or different. But I was encouraged to do so. Yeah. My family's been great my whole life.
Lita [00:10:22] I know that some of the sports you've participated in scuba for sure since you're a part of the Dive Heart organization and baseball golf and lately archery. Has it been any easier the last 30 years compared to the first 20 years of your injury. The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 that might have been having a benefit for your pursuing sports.
Ron [00:10:45] To be honest the ADA really has not been an issue for me one way or the other. Again when I started playing sports. It was 20 years you know almost 20 years before the ADA came about and I've been doing it my whole life. I like the challenge. I when I was a kid I loved playing baseball I still wish I could. But you know father time has caught up with me. But I still do other sports that may not be as physically active I like to be involved and whatever it is. I like the challenge.
Lita [00:11:28] right, Well I know that at the range we were talking yesterday and you said as an adult you still have to prove yourself when joining a new group. You said that. It sounded a lot like where I said it sounded a lot like. Being a female mechanic and you didn't understand that because you're not a female or a mechanic but talk about that a little bit now as an adult. How difficult is it for you to get into new situations. Are there people that stare. Does it make you self-aware.
Ron [00:11:57] Right. And before we go along with this I need to say thank you for stealing my line. I think that was my line yesterday. I'm not a woman or a mechanic.
Lita [00:12:04] Laughter.
Ron [00:12:06] I mean.
Lita [00:12:08] I knew I heard it somewhere.
Ron [00:12:13] The reality. Yes. You know the one thing I have noticed throughout the years is because I do things my own way to participate. I do see people that busted me or does dare I lead them and now I'm used to it. But it's probably a little more un-nerving when I was growing up. But again like I said I'm used to it now. But even since I was a kid I did always have to prove myself. But even with my peers or the kids from little league that I grew up with. After a while they knew me. But when I started playing against other people they didn't, or when I played in travel leagues. we did, you know, other people people didn't know me per se, yes. And I always had to prove myself again because they're always looking at me out there who's doing things differently than them. And a lot of times I would get the look, or the stares, or the "yeah this kid doesn't belong. This guy shouldn't be here" until I started playing.
Jean [00:13:18] Okay. Well I just learned that, when you're meeting new people or entering a new group the functional MRI of someone who is meeting new people looks the same as a functional MRI of someone who is perceives a threat. Or is in distress. So for I think for everyone it's always challenging and a little bit scary when entering a new group and it's just interesting that you know it it's it can be hard for anyone. And I know that when I was using a wheelchair I often felt that people always wanted to help me even if I didn't need help or I felt like I could do something on my own. And I oftentimes felt conflicted. You know sometimes I wanted people I needed help and other times I just wanted to be able to do things on my own and I had difficulty finding the words to actually let someone know that I'm okay I can handle something and I I'm okay and I know what I was doing. Do you ever feel uncomfortable asking for help or would rather do things on your own until you can acquire the ability or something like that.
Ron [00:14:28] That's an interesting question. I'm pretty stubborn in that sense that yeah I like to do things independently. I will ask if I can't or it just becomes too difficult. But there really isn't much at all that I can't do because again I find a way to do it.
Jean [00:14:49] mmhmm.
Ron [00:14:49] And there are people out there and with all good intention some kind of want to help or whatever. Sometimes it's difficult to not accept the help or I mean I do. I'm just so used to doing things myself.
Jean [00:15:04] Mmhmm ok,
Lita [00:15:06] Your your recent challenge is a personal one. That's archery. I know you're working hard to improving your stance and you're breathing. What is the hardest part of your current challenge.
Ron [00:15:20] Well you are an Archer from the past and you could understand the sport and every little part of your stand. Every part of your posture, every little part of your release it impacts where your arrows are lined up. So right now I think the biggest challenge I'm having is consistency with all the little minute aspects of the sport. If you're aware I'm shooting at a target it's 50 meters 55 yards from where I'm standing and the whole size is about half the size of a compact disc. So trying to hit a target that small from that distance precision and accuracy is paramount. So any little. Change in posture or release can affect the arrow where it hits the target. So it's getting that consistency with every aspect of eventually releasing the arrow.
Jean [00:16:26] OK. And I think those of us who have fired at a range with weaponry we kind of understand that where even like the slightest variation in your breath can affect where you hit on a target and if any of our listeners have any tips or tricks or suggestions we'd be happy to hear them and pass them on to Ron. And I know I won't be at the archery range anytime soon. I was almost almost never made it into this world when a stray arrow almost got me when I was still in my mom's belly. So yeah a little bit of a fear there.
Lita [00:17:01] Yeah yeah. We won't be dragging you out there. I want the parents at home to realize that. It's only a disability if you let it become one. I know it's simplistic. I don't mean to be shallow regarding anyone's feelings but I think it's okay to let your child stumble just like any other child that will, as they're growing. You don't need to be overprotective. You can let the child learn and adapt. You can give guidance and support. And be there when they need you but don't be so overprotective that they can't grow and learn for themselves what will work, what won't work, is that What you are trying to say Ron?
Ron [00:17:43] Yeah it's funny that you put it that way. I recall when I was a child. One of the parents, this was in little league, actually. Told my mom. That she was surprised that my mom was allowing me to ride a bike.
Lita [00:18:03] tskk.
Ron [00:18:03] Exactly. It's ridiculous. Now I again I'm sure she meant well but sometimes if you're overprotective you don't allow your kids to be kids you know grow and flourish.
Lita [00:18:15] Right.
Jean [00:18:17] Well we heard about a quad amputee who had a bike modified from Ride to Recovery. And he was injured. The gentleman was injured in the military and had to have all four limbs amputated amputated and he actually he works. His part. He works there, I don't know exactly how the motion works but he's had adapt, adaptations made to the bike. And when it's first time out on the road he fell over and was,.
Lita [00:18:46] wiped out.
Jean [00:18:48] And wiped out. And they went to him and said "Oh you you do not want to try this." and he said "oh no let's. Let's go. Let's try it". You know you got to get out there you've got to try it and adoptions can be made for anyone.
Ron [00:18:59] Oh absolutely. I remember I could take some of my students adaptted water skiing with a group that provides beach sports in waterskiing for people that can't walk. And one of my students who was waterskiing on the lake up in Twin Lakes Wisconsin wiped out.
Jean [00:19:18] Yeah.
Ron [00:19:18] You know everybody's freaking out. "Oh my God oh my God." And we got the girl up, and get her back on to the ski boat. She was laughing.
Lita [00:19:30] (laughter).
Ron [00:19:30] And everybody said what are you laughing for. I'm having fun.
Jean [00:19:34] Yeah.
Ron [00:19:35] You know I think she cut herself. Who doesn't. You know you can't treat somebody you know like glass just because you're afraid something's going to happen.
Lita [00:19:45] Kids are gonna get hurt.
Ron [00:19:46] Exactly. But it's great. Nowadays a lot of organizations are out there that have opportunity if you will both for sport and for. The other other forms of leisure that weren't around many many years ago. You guys were aware of being Veterans and through the VA hospital,.
Jean [00:20:12] yeah.
Ron [00:20:12] And we have in Chicago now known as the Shirley Ryan ability clinic or ability lab.
Lita [00:20:18] Right.
Ron [00:20:19] They have so much going on out there, that borders, of the different organizations that I'm involved with, with the Dive Heart which does adapted Scuba diving, the other organization which I mentioned is the water skiing, is called dreams for kids.
Jean [00:20:36] OK,.
Ron [00:20:36] And they allow kids to be kids.
Jean [00:20:39] Right.
Ron [00:20:39] So by water skiing in the summer snow skiing in the winter. You know for kids that can't walk. There's a lot more that goes into it. But where I'm going with this is a lot more opportunity for not just kids. Kids and adults, with any type of disability to get involved in sport or any other recreational activities. So the sky can be the limit now.
Lita [00:21:03] I think we finally touched on the recreational therapy portion.
Jean [00:21:08] Oh Shocking given that we have two recreational therapists in the room. What do you get when you have two recreational therapists in the room. Yeah. A lot of talk about recreational therapy. And they will tell you that anyone can do anything.
Lita [00:21:22] Yes.
Ron [00:21:24] What's not great about that. (Laughter) Yeah. Anything that's out there, there is always a way to modify it for somebody to participate in and that's what Lita and I went to school for and I believe we both still believe wholeheartedly in this and the way I got involved had nothing to do with my disability although having a disability it's kind of helped me to help others. But again because of the times we are in now and all the different organizations there are out there and the opportunities that exist if you are interested whether an active sport or any other type of recreational opportunity is always going to be something there for you.
Jean [00:22:12] Well that's that's really great. I know always our world gets smaller with our ability to communicate instantly and diversity is easier to observe and hopefully more accepted our collective appreciation and acceptance of people is certainly one of human natures its greatest strengths.
Ron [00:22:32] Oh I totally agree. I think nowadays with much more emphasis on acceptance I don't think there is much of a stigma, that used to be when I was a kid. And I think that the world is more open to people with disabilities participating in sports.
Jean [00:22:55] OK, Yeah. You got to see the person.
Lita [00:22:57] Right. Well. We started out the episode discussing brachial plexus injury but also we drifted off into the difficulties children may have when there's something a little bit different than their peers. But we celebrate those differences we stand in support of anyone with a physical mental or emotional challenge and we hope our listeners will do the same and help those in their lives to also do the same.
Jean [00:23:24] When they need help or when they ask for it.
Lita [00:23:26] If they need it.
Jean [00:23:27] Yeah.
Lita [00:23:27] Be there for them all
Lita: If you have any questions or comments related to today's show please contact us at Podcast D X at yahoo dot com to our Web site Podcast DX dot com, our Facebook page, Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter and Ron. Thank you for being our guest.
Jean: Thank you.
Ron [00:23:47] I appreciate it. I wish I had more time but I'm joking over here.
Lita [00:23:54] (laughter).
Ron [00:23:54] Thank you. And for our listeners out there if you have a moment to spare please give us a five star review where ever you get your podcast ap. Until next time.
Lita [00:24:03] We're gone.