Hand and Wrist Injuries
Hand and wrist injuries are extremely common in motor vehicle accident cases. The hand is an extremely complicated structure consisting of twenty-seven bones and a variety of soft tissues. Injury to the hand can have a profound impact on the victim’s quality of life.
Wrist injuries are properly considered alongside hand injuries and often occur together. The wrist structure consists of the elements of the distal radius and distal ulna (the two bones of the lower arm), the complex of ligaments and fibrous connective tissue, and the carpal bones and other ligaments and bony structures of the hand. Intra-articular wrist fractures, which are fractures through the midline of a joint, are extremely common for those who use their hands to brace for impact. Because of the complex nature of the hand and wrist, these injuries often produce permanent limitations in strength and range of motion. Chronic pain is also a common result. Unfortunately, significant fractures to the hand and wrist carry a high risk for the patient later developing arthritis near the fracture sites.
The carpal bones are the eight bones that separate the metacarpal bones of the hand and the two long bones of the lower arm. These eight bones of the wrist are organized into two rows and form the carpus. Damage to the carpal bones can cause a complex array of difficulties for the patient. Fractured fingers can also be extremely painful and permanent injuries. If surgery is offered as an option, the patient is typically well advised to undergo the procedure. It is best to restore these bones into proper anatomical alignment to ensure proper future function.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition that occurs occasionally with trauma. In most cases, carpal tunnel syndrome arises from repetitive motion and is commonly diagnosed as a work-related injury. Typists and factory workers are often susceptible to this condition. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs because of damage to the median nerve, which passes under the ligament that connects the carpal bones of the wrist. The thumb and first three fingers are involved in the sensory distribution of the median nerve. Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms typically include pain or numbness to this area of the hand.
Trial verdicts can be very high in hand-injury cases. This is especially true in cases involving crush injury or amputation. Because the hands are involved in almost every day-to-day function, jurors understand the impact of these injuries on the victim’s quality of life. The injury claim presentation should include careful research and medical narrative opinions outlining all future limitations imposed by hand and wrist injuries. A functional capacity evaluation or similarly detailed patient evaluation should be conducted to show measurable decreases in grip strength, range of finger and wrist motion, ongoing pain, and all other symptoms. If arthritic changes or other future problems are medically expected because of trauma, a doctor’s estimate of all costs for future pain medication and other future medical care should also be provided to support the full value of a hand- or wrist-injury claim. The patient’s hobbies and activities should also be considered to show how the hand or wrist injury impacts recreation and quality of life.