Indirect Cost of Traumatic Brachial Plexus Injuries in the United States

Thomas S. Hong, Andrea Tian, Ryan Sachar, Wilson Z. Ray, David M. Brogan, Christopher J. Dy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background:Traumatic brachial plexus injuries (BPIs) disproportionately affect young, able-bodied individuals. Beyond direct costs associated with medical treatment, there are far-reaching indirect costs related to disability and lost productivity. Our objective was to estimate per-patient indirect cost associated with BPI.Methods:We estimated indirect costs as the sum of (1) short-term wage loss, (2) long-term wage loss, and (3) disability payments. Short-term (6-month) wage loss was the product of missed work days and the average earnings per day. The probability of return to work was derived from a systematic review of the literature, and long-term wage loss and disability payments were estimated. Monte Carlo simulation was used to perform a sensitivity analysis of long-term wage loss by varying age, sex, and return to work simultaneously. Disability benefits were estimated from U.S. Social Security Administration data. All cost estimates are in 2018 U.S. dollars.Results:A systematic review of the literature demonstrated that the patients with BPI had a mean age of 26.4 years, 90.5% were male, and manual labor was the most represented occupation. On the basis on these demographics, our base case was a 26-year-old American man working as a manual laborer prior to BPI, with an annual wage of $36,590. Monte Carlo simulation estimated a short-term wage loss of $22,740, a long-term wage loss of $737,551, and disability benefits of $353,671. The mean total indirect cost of traumatic BPI in the Monte Carlo simulations was $1,113,962 per patient over the post-injury lifetime (median: $801,723, interquartile range: $22,740 to $2,350,979). If the probability of the patient returning to work at a different, lower-paying job was doubled, the per-patient total indirect cost was $867,987.Conclusions:BPI can have a far-reaching economic impact on both individuals and society. If surgical reconstruction enables patients with a BPI to return to work, the indirect cost of this injury decreases.Level of Evidence:Economic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E80
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - American Volume
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 21 2019


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