Two Cases of Traumatic Brachial Plexus Injury With Complete Spinal Cord Injury

Aaron W. Paul, Robert J. Spinner, Allen T. Bishop, Alexander Y. Shin, Peter C. Rhee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Traumatic brachial plexus injury (BPI) in patients with complete spinal cord injury (SCI) such as paraplegia or tetraplegia is a very rare and debilitating combined injury that can occur in high-energy traumas. Management of a BPI should be aimed at regaining strength for self-transfers and activities of daily living to restore independence. However, brachial plexus reconstruction (BPR) in this unique patient population requires considerable planning due to the combined elements of upper and lower motor neuron injuries. Methods: We present 2 cases of traumatic complete SCI with concomitant BPI with mean follow-up of 42 months after BPR. The first patient had a left C5-7 BPI with a T2 complete SCI. The second patient sustained a left C5-8 BPI with complete SCI at C8. Results: The first patient underwent BPR including free functioning muscle, intra- and extraplexal nerve transfers, and tendon transfers resulting in active elbow flexion and active elbow, finger, and thumb extension, but no recovery of shoulder function. While the second patient underwent extra-plexal nerve transfer to restore elbow flexion yet did not recover any function in the left upper extreimty. Conclusions: Because extensive upper and lower motor neuron injuries are present in these combined injuries, treatment strategies are limited. Expectations should be tempered in these patients as traditional methods to reconstruct the brachial plexus may result in less than ideal functional outcomes due to the associated upper motor neuron injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)NP27-NP31
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • brachial plexus injury
  • brachial plexus reconstruction
  • complete spinal cord injury
  • spinal cord injury
  • traumatic cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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