What is Brachial Plexus Injury?

Staff Writer | February 15th, 2013 | Posted in Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit News

Causes of Cerebral PalsyThe brachial plexus is a group of nerves in the spinal cord. These nerves control important motor functions, like hand, shoulder, and elbow movements. Two out of every 1,000 newborns experience brachial plexus injury, generally from physical damage – including medical negligence – during birth. For some of these babies, their injuries are severe enough to cause serious health complications like paralysis, Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy, or total brachial plexus palsy.

What are the risk factors?

Brachial plexus injury is a physical injury that occurs during labor and birth. During delivery, the infant’s shoulders can become lodged, or stuck, in the birth canal. This is most common in babies with macrosomia (weigh more than 9 pounds) or those who are in the breech (feet-down) position during birth. It is also more common in women who have been in labor for many hours. If any of these factors are present, medical staff should switch to high alert in order to reduce risk factors and avoid preventable but permanent damage to the infant.

What causes brachial plexus injury?

Medical negligence, unfortunately, is a common cause of brachial plexus injury. (It’s also one of the top causes of cerebral palsy, brain damage, and other serious birth injuries.) If a doctor or nurse ignores risk factors for brachial plexus injury, s/he may exert too much force on an infant, causing serious and/or irreparable damage to the child’s brachial plexus nerves. Brachial plexus injury is categorized on a scale from least to most serious:

  • Neuropraxia: A stretch injury that shocks, but does not rip or tear the brachial plexus nerves. This injury generally heals without medical intervention.
  • Neuroma: A stretch injury that damages few nerve fibers. Recovery is possible.
  • Rupture: Nerves are torn during birth.
  • Avulsion: Brachial plexus nerves are severely torn, separating from the spinal cord. This is the most common type of brachial plexus injury.

What are the symptoms of brachial plexus injury?

Injury to the brachial plexus nerves is not one of the primary causes of cerebral palsy or brain damage, but it can lead to other serious and long-lasting complications: Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy, and total brachial plexus palsy. These conditions affect the shoulder, arms and hands and may cause numbness, immobility or total paralysis. Symptoms usually appear right after birth, and can be verified through medical testing, including X-rays and the Moro reflex test.

If your family has been affected by medical malpractice or negligence – the primary causes of cerebral palsy, brachial plexus palsy, brain damage, and other life-altering conditions – you need to speak with birth injury attorneys. Your family was entitled to proper, attentive medical care during your child’s birth, but you didn’t get it. Now your family may be entitled to compensation for resulting injuries. You’re already paying the emotional price of another’s mistakes; don’t pay the financial price, too. The attorneys at Balkin & Eisbrouch offer a free consultation, so we can help evaluate your circumstances and legal options. We won’t charge you a cent unless we win your case. Call today at 855-60-BIRTH and see if we can help.