Infant Nerve Damage in Newborn Children

Illustration of nerve damage in a newborn child cellInfants deserve to explore the world we brought them in. We engage them in different experiences so that they can grow and develop. Sometimes, they do not get to fully enjoy their rights for something as preventable as nerve injuries.

Among the list of preventable birth injuries are brachial plexus injuries.  While this is relatively rare, they do occur and they can have devastating effects.  Brachial plexus is the collection of nerves at the neck that supply different parts of our upper limbs. For infants, this structure is prone to damage during the labor and/or the delivery process. These injuries are often caused by the negligence of the healthcare provider, but can also be due to birthing difficulties.

Despite being preventable, infant brachial plexus injuries happen in 0.3 to 2 out of 1,000 live births. It is more common in normal vaginal births by 91% than C-section births at 9%.

Different Presentations of Brachial Plexus Injuries

Erb-Duchenne Palsy is a paralysis on the upper part of the brachial plexus, particularly on the C5-C6 nerve roots. This paralysis affects the strongest muscles of the arm so much that the child cannot raise their arms to the sides. Because of this, their arms and forearms are rotated inward with their elbows stretched. Despite this, their hands and fingers are not affected.

Among the brachial plexus injuries, Erb-Duchenne Palsy is the most common injury during childbirth and labor. Delivering infant head-first is very difficult. There are a few instances where medical professionals unintentionally yet forcefully pull the rest of the body out. In this force pull, the nerves in the neck are affected.

Klumpke’s Paralysis, on the other hand, affects the lower portion of the brachial plexus, specifically the C8-T1 nerve roots. In contrast with Erb-Duchenne Palsy, children with Klumpke’s Paralysis can use their arms well. However, their hands and fingers are affected, which often presents as a “claw-hand” deformity.

Klumpke’s Paralysis is often caused by a traumatic vaginal delivery. The lower part of the brachial plexus gets damaged especially when the infant is pulled by the arm. The risk for this injury increases when the mother is small, or if the infant is large. As a side note, this injury can also happen in toddlers who were pulled forcefully by the arm.

Medical and Rehabilitation Treatments for Brachial Plexus Injuries

Some nerve injuries heal on their own, but this is not always the case with brachial plexus injuries. If the condition lasts for more than a month, then it will often have lasting effects. In this instance, it is advisable to consult your physician about the condition as early as possible. This way, the infant can get the treatment and therapy they need.

  • Pediatric Neurosurgeries

Nerve injuries may sometimes need to undergo neurosurgery. Neurosurgeries are more intended for infants who have Erb-Duchenne Palsy. In infants, there are three common neurosurgeries: nerve transfers, subscapularis release, and latissimus dorsi tendon transfers.

In nerve transfers, it is more effective to undergo this procedure under 9 months of age. If done at an older age, the surgery can cause more harm than good. The other two operations will stretch and detach specific muscles or tendons so the infant can raise their arms.

  • Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy

Rehabilitation is necessary for the children to establish their motor skills. Since they have weakness in some muscles, the physical therapy program will focus on strengthening the affected muscles. Mild electric devices can also be used to stimulate the muscles and prevent them from shrinking.

Aside from physical therapy, the child will also need occupational therapy to improve their motor and sensory skills. In Klumpke’s Paralysis, for instance, the child will need occupational therapy so that he will learn how to use his hands in play and other daily activities. Likewise, these rehabilitation professionals are good at making splints. The splints are useful to prevent unwanted positions such as the claw-hand deformity.

Is the Injury Caused by Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is the failure of the healthcare professional to deliver a safe and effective medical service. Healthcare professionals should know the different precautions and measures to consider before operating childbirth. As stated above, it is highly possible that the injury is caused by medical malpractice. Therefore, the medical professional, or the hospital or clinic, should be held accountable for any injuries the infant gets during pregnancy including any medical expenses that are required throughout the lifetime of the child’s life.

It is not easy to win a case against such influential intuitions such as hospitals. But we have to know and prove who is responsible for the injury. To take this into action, you will need the help of birth injury lawyers. We at The Clark Law Office are experts at looking at medical records to verify the real cause of the incident. Do not hesitate to contact us today for any of your concerns.  Call us today at (517) 347-6900 for a free consultation to discuss your situation.  We will listen carefully to you and inform you of your legal options.  No fees unless you win!