By Kelly Hurla
The Annual International Brachial Plexus Injury Awareness Week is next week. Although it may be something fairly unheard of, it is something that Sierra Character-Martinez thinks about every day. Her now three-year-old, Malulani, suffered from a shoulder dystocia leading to this kind of injury, affecting her ability to use her right arm and shoulder.
While a brachial plexus injury can result from a number of different accidents, one of the most common causes is through the childbirth process as in Malulani’s case. Character-Martinez urges mothers to research the possibilities of birth injuries and be prepared, as this an injury that is preventable and not at all genetic.
“Don’t give birth on your back,” said Character-Martinez. “I know a lot of hospitals require that you do it on your back because it’s easier for the physician, however giving birth on your back is harder on the mother’s body and it creates the blunt force that results in shoulder dystocia and brachial plexus.”
Martinez is looking to spread awareness in the community as well as provide to support for other families that may be affected.
“For awareness week I’m asking for one day, try doing everything you would normally do in your day-to-day with one hand,” said Character-Martinez. “Just do anything you would normally do with two hands, only use one so you can see what people who are affected with brachial plexus deal with every day.”
The brachial plexus awareness color is blue with silver. Character-Martinez is making ribbons and is willing to give them out to anyone who may be interested in showing their support. She’s also asking for supporters to wear a blue shirt any day next week.
For more information about brachial plexus injuries, visit The United Brachial Plexus Network website or call them toll free at 1-866-877-7004. For a local support group, visit birthinjury.org, “Like” Mom’s of Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries on Facebook, or tweet using #TeamMalulani.
Brachial Plexus Injury Awareness Week is Oct. 20 to Oct. 26.