What You Need to Know About A Brachial Plexus Injury

Image of nervous system in the neck or shoulders also called brachial plexusThe brachial plexus is a network of nerves between the neck and shoulders. This network of nerves controls muscle functions in the shoulders, chest, arms, and hands.

Brachial plexus birth injury is an injury in these nerves. It occurs in one to three of every 1000 births. Injury can occur when these nerves are compressed, stretched, or torn during the baby’s delivery. It can result in loss of muscle function in the baby’s arm or even paralysis.

What are the Causes of Brachial Plexus Injury?

The most common cause of brachial plexus injury is excessive stretching during the baby’s delivery. Most of these deliveries are difficult and stressful for both mother and child. Often, birth-assistance tools, such as forceps and vacuum extraction tool, are used in these deliveries.

Other causes of brachial plexus injury include the following:

  • Breech delivery
  • Fetal macrosomia
  • Maternal diabetes
  • Underdeveloped muscles
  • Maternal obesity
  • Position of the baby (such as when the shoulders are lodged in the mother’s pelvis)

Brachial plexus injury can also occur if the doctor applies too much pressure (trauma) in the infant during delivery. Contractions can also cause these injuries, as they can place too much stress on the baby’s shoulders and upper arms.

What Are The Different Types of Brachial Plexus Injury?

Brachial plexus birth injuries are classified based on the type of nerve injury. These are:

  1. Neurapraxia (Stretch) – It is the most common form of brachial plexus birth injury. In the injury, the nerve has been stretched forcefully but is still intact. The injured nerves, which are outside the spinal cord, can usually recover on their own.
  1. Rupture – This type of injury occurs when the nerves are torn, but not where it is connected to the spinal cord. Ruptured nerves will need surgery to heal and recover.
  1. Avulsion – In this type of injury, the nerve roots are torn from the spinal cord. It is a less common form of brachial plexus injury. The damaged nerves must be surgically replaced.
  1. Neuroma – In this injury, the injured nerves have tried to heal. However, scarring has formed and affects normal nerve function.
  1. Erb’s Palsy – Erb’s Palsy involves the upper part of the brachial plexus. It affects muscle control of the shoulders and biceps. It can also result in partial or full paralysis of the affected arm. Treatment of Erb’s palsy usually begins when the baby is three weeks old, through home physical therapy.
  1. Total Plexus Involvement – In this injury, all nerves of the brachial plexus are damaged. The baby would not be able to move his shoulders, arms, or hands.
  1. Klumpke’s Palsy – Klumpke’s Palsy occurs at the lower nerves of the brachial plexus. It can cause numbness, miosis, loss of feeling and sensation, and a claw-like appearance of the affected hand. It usually occurs when the baby is stuck in the mother’s pelvic bone, and the doctor had to pull the baby out forcefully.

Negligence Can Result to Brachial Plexus Injury

When the infant’s shoulder becomes stuck during birth, doctors and nurses may use force to get the baby out. They may use inappropriate techniques that can injure the baby and cause trauma.

If your baby suffered from a brachial plexus injury because of your doctor’s negligence, seek legal help immediately. Your doctor may be liable for a brachial plexus injury, especially if the injury was entirely preventable.

Your medical practitioner can be held responsible for the following reasons:

  • Failing to call for a Caesarean delivery on time, because of the risk of shoulder dystocia
  • Failure to estimate the size and weight of the infant
  • Failure to determine the position of the baby
  • Applying excessive force on the baby’s neck during delivery

An experienced and reputable birth injury lawyer will help you establish your case and get you the support that you need. Treatment for brachial plexus injury can be costly, from physical therapies to surgeries, if needed. A Michigan birth injury lawyer will help you and your baby get compensated to ensure the recovery of your child.

Call The Clark Law Office for Birth Injury Claims!

The Clark Law Office has been helping families in Michigan recover from birth injuries. Nobody wants to see their baby suffer. Our dedicated lawyers will help you every step of the way. Book an appointment today.


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