Brachial Plexus Palsy is a disease, which may effect three out of 1000 children. Zaccary Vollrath-McCoy is one of those children. Zaccary is the son of Jesse and Billie Vollrath-McCoy of Boonville and Mark Roth of Boonville.
Billie explained that Zaccary received his injury during delivery.
"He weighed 10 pounds, 2 ounces and was born naturally. Zaccary was so big that when they first had me start pushing, he pushed my cervix completely back out and they left him in the birth canal for almost three hours. Statistics show that if 5-60 of pressure are applied to a babies head for more than five minutes that they should have irreversible brain damage. When Zaccary was finally delivered he was gray and not breathing and had hand print bruises. Babies with this big of a birth weight should be taken by C-section," Billie said.
Brachial Plexus Palsy (BPP) is a devastating condition that infants and some newborns can develop. The Brachial Plexus is a group of nerves on the spine that controls the feeling, control and the movement of the hands, arms and wrists.
Billie said while this is not a well-discussed injury, interestingly it is more common than other birth injuries, even Cerebral Palsy and Downs Syndrome.
• The brachial plexus is a group of nerves that start in the neck and shoulder area and control the neck, hands, wrists and elbows.
• The brachial plexus is essential to a normally functioning body, and injuries to this system can be devastating. Because these nerves are very fragile, they can be damaged easily, especially during childbirth.
• Sometimes this type of birth injury can occur when the child is being removed from the mother, and the neck is forced away from the shoulder or when pressure causes the brachial plexus to be crushed between the collarbone.
According to the BPD Foundation there are three types of conditions. 'Stretch' is the least severe of BPP injuries and are caused by swelling in the region of the Brachial Plexus. It often spontaneously heals to restore 90-100 percent of the hand(s) or arm(s) use. Rupture is the next severe where nerves are completely severed from the plexus in the region of the shoulder bones and muscles. It requires surgery for any possibility of healing, even though there is no guarantee. Avulsion is the total tearing of the nerves from the spine and the Plexus is the most severe form of BPD and requires surgery and often muscle transfer for any hope of recovery. Billie said Zaccary suffers from Avulsion.
Billie said Zaccary has been doing as much therapy as he can
"Zaccary learns to compensate and doesn't use his disability as an excuse. He has to find other ways to perform tasks. Zaccary loves sports and does not let his arm hinder him in any way if he can keep from it," Billie said.
Billie said it is very hard to accept things that happen to one's child.
"At times I get really angry and upset because a BPP injury is 100 percent preventable and is caused usually by doctor's negligence but Zaccary has adapted very well. Anyone with a child that has a disease, illness or injury would understand, however, we are very thankful that it does only affect his arm," Billie said.
Zaccary has been undergoing treatments to address the BPD since he was eight months old.
"Zaccary had his first surgery at St. Louis Children's Hospital, which was performed by Dr. T.S. Parks. They did a nerve grafting surgery removing nerves from his leg up into his clavical/shoulder. His most recent surgery was the osteotomy, in which they cut the bone in his upper arm and reset it to see if he could regain and better range of motion. He is still in recovery for that, but he has pretty much been doing physical and occupational therapy his whole life. The next surgery will be performed on muscles and tendons to help Zaccary be able to make a fist and to have control of his wrist functions," Billie said.
Currently to focus a light on the disease Zaccary's family have decided to sell bracelets in colors that represent the disease.
"With the help of Psychobilly Tattoo we have decided to sell grey and blue survival bracelets for $10 each," Billie said.
Billie also said there is also a fundraiser bank account set up at Citizen Bank and Trust under Zaccary's name.
"We will sell the bracelets until the end of May. We are hoping to promote a little more awareness in this area and let people know how and what it is caused from. Half of the money raised from the sales of bracelets or donations will be donated to a program for BPP patients," she said.
Billie said there is a program led by BirthInjury.org, called the Midwest Brachial Plexus Summer Camp and is held in Lee's Summit, Missouri.
"The camp, now in its 11th year, gives families and children affected by brachial plexus injuries a place to get together to have fun and share information," Billie said.
She also said kids with brachial plexus can relate to and spend time with other children who share their affliction.
"Parents and families also can swap stories and share helpful information from others who understand what they are going through," Billie said.
She added support from peers is vital when dealing with a birth injury and a disabled child.