The brachial plexus is a nerve network that controls the muscles of the arm. Birth injuries to these nerves may paralyze or weaken the shoulder, arm and hand. The St. Louis Children’s Hospital states that brachial plexus birth injuries occur during 0.2 to 2.0 per 1,000 births. While the majority of newborn babies with brachial plexus injuries heal on their own within a year after birth, some require physical and occupational therapy and a few may even require surgery.
Four primary kinds of nerve injuries may occur in infants with brachial plexus birth palsy:
- Avulsion: This occurs when nerve roots are separated from the spinal cord. This is an uncommon form which cannot be treated by surgery.
- Rupture: Ruptures result in torn nerves, but not at the contact point to the spine. This is a common form of brachial plexus injury and can be treated by surgery.
- Neurapraxia:This is the most common form of brachial plexus injuries. In this case, a nerve is stretched, not torn, and the damaged nerve(s) can often heal on their own.
- Neuroma: The nerve partially recovers on its own but scar tissue forms, which affects nerve function. Neuroma can be treated by surgery.
Brachial plexus causes
Brachial plexus injury occurs most frequently with large babies, a breeched delivery, long or difficult labor and twin births. While this type of injury may be unavoidable under these circumstances, there are instances where a doctor pulls too hard during delivery and damages the brachial plexus.
Doctors and nurses should recognize when a baby is at risk of suffering brachial plexus palsy and act accordingly to prevent damage. If they do not, their actions can be construed as negligent and used as the basis of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Depending on the severity of the injury, a baby with a brachial plexus injury could require multiple surgeries, treatments and, in some cases, lifelong care. The cost of all of this could be staggering and overwhelm a family, which is why those who suspect negligence should contact a birth injury attorney in Pittsburgh right away.
Speak to a birth injury attorney in Pittsburgh with over 30 years of experience
Our birth injury attorneys in Pittsburgh have decades of experience handling birth injury cases. We can help you determine whether your child’s brachial plexus injury was avoidable. If it was, you deserve to be compensated and as Pittsburgh medical malpractice attorneys, we will fight for you to receive what is necessary to pay for your child’s care. There are no attorney’s fees unless we are able to successfully recover compensation.