The brachial plexus is a group of nerve cables that connect the spinal cord in the neck to the nerves that supply the arm’s movement. Brachial plexus palsy describes a paralysis of the arm due to an injury to the brachial plexus. Injury to this critical group of nerve cables can occur during a difficult delivery, when the brachial plexus is stretched or torn. When delivery is complicated, such as in a large baby or prolonged labor, the baby’s neck is stretched. This can lead to neuropraxia, or nerve stretch, which is temporary, or a disruption or tear, which may be irreversible. Brachial plexus palsy is preventable and presents a situation in which prompt action can prevent catastrophic consequences like fetal anoxia. If your child has suffered from brachial plexus palsy and you believe a medical mistake to be the cause, contact a birth injury attorney to discuss your legal options.
Most cases of brachial plexus palsy involve the upper part of the brachial plexus, a condition which is called Erb’s palsy. If the lower part of the brachial plexus is involved, the condition is called Klumpke’s paralysis. In some instances, the whole brachial plexus is affected. In children born with brachial plexus palsy, the newborn typically lies with the affected arm by its side, elbow extended, without moving it. Injuries associated with brachial plexus palsy may affect the neck, shoulder, clavicle and arm. X-rays may also be necessary to rule out any dislocation of the shoulder, cervical spine injuries, or fracture of the clavicle or humerus.
Some children affected by brachial plexus palsy will recover in three to four months, while more severe injuries may require an 18- to 24-month recovery period. While waiting for recovery, it is important that the child be placed on a physical therapy regimen to keep the joints of the arm supple and to prevent atrophy. At three months of age, if an MRI shows a tear of the brachial plexus, a repair and nerve graft may be necessary. In some cases, children suffering from brachial plexus palsy may require surgical correction to repair the injury.
The brachial plexus network of nerves provide movement and feeling to the arm, hand and fingers, and injury to these nerves can cause arm weakness and loss of motion. With the help of qualified, well-trained healthcare professionals, brachial plexus palsy injuries can be avoided. Unfortunately, a medical mistake may cause some children to be born with this condition, which can have a life-altering effect on their lives. If you or a loved one has suffered from brachial plexus palsy, which you believe to be caused by a medical error, contact a birth injury attorney to discuss your options for legal recourse. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries, medical bills, and pain and suffering, which you can collect by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital, Ob/Gyn or doctor in charge of your care. With the help of an experienced birth injury lawyer, you can collect the compensation you deserve and protect yourself and your family from further harm.