Brachial plexus injuries (BPIs) affect the nerves in the upper limbs. The brachial plexus is the network of nerves located in the neck, shoulder, arm, forearm, and hand. These nerves control movement and sensation in these parts of the body. BPIs can stem from blunt trauma and are also a type of birth injury. Birth-related BPIs can result in complications such as Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy, and permanent nerve damage. If your child suffered a BPI during birth, speak with our Philadelphia brachial plexus injury lawyers at Anapol Weiss. You may have a medical malpractice case on your hands.
Birth-Related Brachial Plexus Injuries
There are many types of BPIs, depending on the location and type of damage to the brachial plexus. During less than 1% of live births, a type of BPI called shoulder dystocia can occur. Shoulder dystocia may happen when there is some difficulty delivering the baby’s shoulder. The shoulder may become lodged behind the mother’s pubic bone, resulting in the baby getting stuck in the birth canal. Contractions can then pin the baby against the bone, resulting in potential injuries to the brachial plexus, neck, and brain.
Doctors can prevent a BPI during difficult births with the proper procedures. There are several accepted methods for delivering babies with shoulder dystocia to minimize the harm to the brachial plexus. Improper birth techniques or use of birth-assisting tools can create a BPI, followed by the potential to develop nerve conditions. The prognosis for the infant’s recovery at this point depends on the complexity and severity of the injury.
Erb’s palsy is one potential outcome from a birth-related BPI. This condition causes paralysis of the arm due to injury in the upper group of the brachial plexus. In some cases, Erb’s palsy resolves on its own over a period of months. In other cases, a child may need surgery or rehabilitative therapies to regain use and feeling in the arm. Klumpke’s palsy, another possible outcome of shoulder dystocia, can lead to hand deformity, paralysis of the hand muscles, and weakness or lack of ability in the shoulder or arm. In most cases, babies recover from Klumpke’s palsy within six months.
Severe Brachial Plexus Injuries
Although rare, it is possible for infants to suffer permanent damages from shoulder dystocia and brachial plexus injuries. In severe cases, infants can suffer lifelong disabilities of the fingers, hand, or arm from Klumpke’s palsy. This is especially the case when avulsion (the nerve pulling out from the spinal cord) has occurred and caused permanent damage. Erb’s palsy can also show symptoms in a child for life, such as shoulder, arm, or hand weakness. Children may also exhibit a size difference in the affected arm.
Some studies suggest that traumatic birth injuries can also cause psychological and developmental problems later in life. Researchers believe a traumatic birth experience may have a connection with learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other conditions commonly present in children. If you believe a birth-related brachial plexus injury may have caused or contributed to your child’s developmental conditions, seek help from Anapol Weiss. You may be eligible to receive compensation from a negligent doctor.
Pursuing a Claim for Brachial Plexus Injuries in Philadelphia
At Anapol Weiss, we have more than 40 years of experience representing parents in birth injury cases. Our team of specialists excels in and out of the courtroom in these often-complex lawsuits. We know that many birth-related brachial plexus injuries stem from the negligence of a doctor during labor and delivery. Let us help you bring those guilty of medical malpractice to justice. As soon as you suspect malpractice after the birth of a child, contact us. We care about you and your child’s future.