Psychological consequences of Traumatic Upper Limb Peripheral Nerve Injury: A Systematic Review

Caroline A Miller, Aimie Peek, Dominic Power, Nicola Heneghan

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9 Citations (Scopus)
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Traumatic upper limb peripheral nerve injuries significantly impact individuals’ function and ability to return to work. Patients with peripheral nerve injury experience ongoing psychological impairments for which they are not routinely treated. The aim of this review was to investigate the psychological consequences of traumatic upper limb peripheral nerve injury.

A systematic review of MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, AMED, BNI, the Cochrane libraries and grey literature up to October 2015 was undertaken. Two reviewers independently assessed methodological quality in accordance with Cochrane Collaboration recommendations. Eligibility criteria comprised: adults or adolescents with traumatic upper limb peripheral nerve injury using any measurement of psychological well-being.

Six studies (n = 245) met the inclusion criteria. Methodological quality varied widely. Evidence of post-traumatic stress disorder at one month, which decreased over time, was reported in three studies. Two studies found a statistically significant correlation between the early presence of post-traumatic stress disorder and reduction in function at 12 or more months. Limited information was available on anxiety, depression and mental quality of life. Combined nerve injuries (in two studies) had significantly higher levels of post-traumatic stress disorder, at one month, compared to those with an isolated nerve injury.

There is some evidence of early post-traumatic stress disorder following traumatic upper limb peripheral nerve injury, which may have an impact on functional outcome. However, high-quality studies using prospective cohorts are required to further evaluate the psychological aspects associated with this traumatic injury.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalHand Therapy
Issue number0
Early online date29 Nov 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Nov 2016


  • Peripheral nerve injury
  • upper limb
  • psychological distress
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • systematic review


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