What is the Brachial Plexus?

The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves in the shoulder that control movement and sensation in the arms and hands.  Damage to these nerves can result in stunted arm growth, the inability to use an arm, the loss of sensation in the arm as well as infections resulting from slowly healing wounds.  One out of 1,000 infants experiences an injury to the brachial plexus, which can sometimes cause life-time paralysis.

What’s the Difference Among Brachial Plexus Palsy, Erb’s Palsy and Klumpke’s Paralysis?

All of these conditions are the result of damage to the brachial plexus nerves.  Brachial paralysis affects the upper arm.  Erb’s palsy affects the upper and lower arm.  Klumpe’s paralysis affects the hand.  Infants with Klumpke’s paralysis may also have a dropped eyelid on the opposite side of the face.  In some cases, the injury may result in involuntary muscle contractions which may become permanent.

What Causes Brachial Plexus Injuries in Newborns?

Brachial plexus injuries are usually the result of complications during childbirth.  During a head-first delivery, a doctor pulling on the infant’s shoulders may injure his or her brachial plexus.  During a feet-first delivery, a doctor may place too much pressure on the baby’s raised arms, which can damage the brachial plexus nerves.  In cases of shoulder dystocia, a situation in which an infant’s shoulder gets stuck against a mother’s pubic bone, doctors may also injury the brachial plexus in order to free the baby.  Women who are diabetic are at an increased risk of delivering larger-than-normal babies, which can increase their chances of injury while coming out of the birth canal.

What are the Symptoms of Brachial Plexus Injuries, and How are They Treated?

Infants suffering from brachial plexus injuries may exhibit several symptoms.  For instance, they may not move their arms or hands.  They may have a weak grip and have problems with reflexes in the affected arm or hand.  In other cases, their arms may be bent at the elbow and be held against the body.

In mild to moderate cases, brachial plexus injuries usually heal on their own.  Parents may need to perform gentle massages and range-of-motion exercises to help their infants heal.  However, in severe cases, doctors may need to perform surgery to repair the damaged nerves.  Such surgery may not always be effective or have limited results.

How Can Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC Help?

If your child suffered a brachial plexus injury during a difficult labor, Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC may be able to help.  In some cases, doctors may be responsible for your child’s life-long injuries.  We will thoroughly investigate your claim and  recover compensation from those responsible.

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