Brachial Plexus Attorney Cleveland, Ohio
Brachial plexus injuries are complications that can arise from the attempted birth of a baby that is too large for the mother’s pelvis. It is characterized by nerve damage in the arm, and is a result of shoulder dystocia. Shoulder dystocia is a common birthing condition which occurs when a baby’s shoulder catches on the mother’s pubic bone after the baby’s head has been delivered. The obstetric physician must work quickly to avoid serious complications, such as brachial palsy.
The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that controls movement of the shoulder, arm, elbow, wrist, hand and fingers. The extent of nerve damage will impact the severity of the brachial plexus injury. In milder cases, a baby’s injury may heal on its own within months. In more severe cases, babies may suffer from limp or paralyzed arms. The extent of the injury will dictate whether the treatment requires physical therapy or surgery.
Types of Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries
Erb’s Palsy is a brachial plexus injury that typically occurs during childbirth. It results from the stretching or tearing of the upper brachial plexus nerves (C5-C6), which can occur when excessive force is applied to the baby’s head and neck during delivery. This injury can lead to weakness or paralysis of the shoulder, upper arm, and elbow muscles, often referred to as a “waiter’s tip” position. Erb’s Palsy may be caused by medical malpractice or medical negligence if the healthcare provider fails to take appropriate precautions or action during the birthing process.
Klumpke’s Palsy is another brachial plexus injury but affects the lower brachial plexus nerves (C7-T1). This injury can result from forceful pulling or stretching of the baby’s arm during delivery, often causing a claw-like deformity of the hand and weakness or paralysis of the hand and forearm muscles. Medical malpractice may play a role in some cases of Klumpke’s Palsy if the healthcare provider’s actions or decisions during delivery contributed to the injury.
Total Brachial Plexus Injury
In severe cases, a child may experience a total brachial plexus injury during birth. This means that the entire brachial plexus, comprised of various nerve roots and branches, is damaged. The consequences can be profound, resulting in severe weakness or paralysis of the entire affected arm. Such severe injuries often require extensive medical intervention, including surgery and ongoing therapy.
Horner’s Syndrome can accompany brachial plexus injuries. It is characterized by a combination of symptoms, including drooping of the upper eyelid (ptosis), constriction of the pupil (miosis), and loss of sweating on one side of the face. This syndrome can occur due to damage to the sympathetic nerve fibers within the brachial plexus during birth, which may be linked to medical malpractice if proper precautions were not taken.
This is a temporary and relatively mild injury that can occur when the brachial plexus nerves are stretched or compressed during childbirth. It often resolves on its own with time, and most children with neuropraxia experience a full recovery without long-term consequences. However, medical negligence may still be a consideration if healthcare providers fail to identify and address the risk factors for such injuries.
A neuroma is a type of brachial plexus injury that arises when damaged nerve fibers attempt to heal by forming a mass of scar tissue. This can lead to pain, tingling, and limited function in the affected limb, and may require medical intervention, including surgical treatment to address the neuroma. Neuromas may result from medical negligence if healthcare providers do not adequately manage the injury.
Avulsion is a severe brachial plexus injury where the nerve roots are torn away from the spinal cord. This devastating injury can result in permanent disability and typically necessitates surgical intervention. Cases of avulsion may raise concerns about medical malpractice.
A rupture involves the tearing of the nerve fibers within the brachial plexus but not at the spinal cord level. Depending on the extent of the damage, surgical repair may be necessary to restore function. Medical negligence may be considered if healthcare providers fail to promptly diagnose and treat a rupture adequately.
These injuries occur when the brachial plexus nerves are pulled or stretched beyond their normal range during childbirth. The severity can vary, with some cases causing minor damage and others resulting in more significant impairment. Proper monitoring and timely intervention by healthcare providers are essential to minimize the risk of stretch injuries.
Causes of Brachial Plexus Injuries
Shoulder dystocia during childbirth
Shoulder dystocia may occur if the baby’s head passes through the birth canal, but the shoulders become stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone. This can put significant pressure on the brachial plexus nerves during delivery. In cases where healthcare providers do not respond appropriately to shoulder dystocia, a newborn may suffer a brachial plexus injury.
Excessive pulling or traction during delivery
Healthcare providers, such as obstetricians or midwives, may exert excessive force or pull on the baby’s head or arms during delivery. This force can stretch or damage the nerves. When improper techniques or excessive force are used, you need to call me, as this could be considered medical negligence. In such cases, the healthcare provider’s actions may be scrutinized as potentially contributing to the injury.
Improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction
The use of forceps or vacuum extraction devices to assist with delivery can sometimes result in injuries. If these tools are applied incorrectly or with excessive force, they can cause nerve damage. In instances where healthcare providers improperly use forceps or vacuum extraction devices, you need to talk to me about the possibility of a birth injury lawsuit. Medical negligence may be a factor if the improper application of these tools led to an injury.
Babies in a breech position have their buttocks or feet presenting first during birth, which can increase the risk of brachial plexus injuries. In such cases, the baby’s arms may become trapped or compressed during delivery. While breech births themselves are not necessarily the result of medical negligence, the professionals must carefully manage breech deliveries to minimize the risk of injuries.
Prolonged or difficult deliveries
A prolonged or difficult labor and delivery process can increase the likelihood of brachial plexus injuries. If the baby is stuck in the birth canal for an extended period of time, the risk of nerve damage and other birth injuries arise. Healthcare providers may be considered at fault if they do not take appropriate steps to manage prolonged or difficult deliveries, potentially leading to a child’s birth injury.
Inadequate monitoring and assessment during labor
Proper monitoring of both the mother and the baby’s condition during labor is crucial to identify any signs of distress or potential complications. Failure to do so can result in delayed responses to situations that increase the risk of possible injury. Medical professionals may be at fault if they neglect to adequately monitor the progress of labor or fail to respond promptly to warning signs, possibly contributing to brachial plexus injuries.
Inadequate training or experience of healthcare providers
Healthcare providers who lack proper training or experience in managing complicated deliveries may inadvertently contribute to injuries due to errors in technique or judgment. This is absolutely unacceptable, and the hospital must also be held accountable. In cases where healthcare providers are inadequately trained or experienced, their actions or decisions may be considered negligent, potentially leading to the child’s injury.
For more than 40 years, I’ve been a brachial plexus injury lawyer. If your child suffered a birth injury, you need to call me and I’ll Make Them Pay!® As a highly experienced lawyer, I’ll find out if medical mistakes occurred causing your child’s brachial plexus injury, and if so my job is to begin legal action to obtain fair financial compensation for your family.
Issues Resulting From Brachial Plexus Injuries
Living with a brachial plexus injury can present various challenges and issues in day-to-day life.
Loss of arm function
Injuries, such as Erb’s Palsy, often result in partial or complete loss of arm function. This can make basic daily tasks such as dressing, grooming, and eating difficult or impossible without assistance.
Many individuals with brachial plexus injuries experience chronic pain in the affected arm or shoulder. This pain can be constant and may require ongoing pain management strategies.
Limited range of motion
Limited mobility in the affected arm is a common issue. Simple activities like reaching, lifting, or rotating the arm may be severely restricted.
Due to the lack of nerve signals to the muscles, muscle atrophy (wasting) can occur in the affected arm. This can lead to weakness and further impaired function.
Individuals with severe brachial plexus injuries may become dependent on others for daily tasks, which can impact their independence and self-esteem.
Difficulty with personal care
Basic personal care tasks such as bathing, toileting, and getting dressed can be challenging, requiring adaptations or assistance.
Emotional and psychological impact
Coping with a brachial plexus injury can lead to emotional and psychological challenges, including depression, anxiety, and a reduced sense of self-worth.
The physical limitations imposed by the injury can lead to social isolation, as individuals may find it challenging to participate in social activities or maintain relationships.
Many individuals may struggle to return to work or continue their previous careers due to the limitations imposed by their injury. They may need to explore alternative employment options.
The costs associated with medical treatment, rehabilitation, and adaptive equipment, coupled with potential loss of income, can create financial stress for individuals and their families.
Depending on the severity of the injury, individuals may need various adaptive devices and equipment to assist with daily living, such as modified utensils, mobility aids, or home modifications.
Continual medical care
Brachial plexus injuries often require ongoing medical care, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and regular check-ups with specialists.
Difficulty with transportation
Transportation can be challenging, especially if the injury affects the dominant arm and interferes with driving.
There are many options for help when living with cerebral palsy, or other injuries that occur to the brachial plexus. Unfortunately, they are all very expensive. As an experienced birth injury attorney, I am here to help. Give me a call, and let’s discuss your options and I’ll Make Them Pay!®
Treatments for Brachial Plexus Injuries
Physical therapy is a cornerstone of brachial plexus treatment. Therapists work with individuals to improve range of motion, strength, and function in the affected arm. Various exercises and techniques are used to facilitate nerve regeneration and muscle re-education.
Occupational therapists focus on helping individuals with brachial plexus injuries regain their ability to perform daily tasks and activities, such as dressing, grooming, and eating. They may provide adaptive strategies and recommend assistive devices.
Nerve Transfer Surgery:
In some cases, nerve transfer surgery may be recommended. During this procedure, healthy nerves from other parts of the body are connected to the damaged nerves in the brachial plexus to restore function. This technique can help improve muscle control and sensation, thus helping to control movement.
Nerve Graft Surgery:
Nerve graft surgery involves taking a section of a healthy nerve from elsewhere in the body and grafting it onto the damaged portion of the brachial plexus. This procedure can help bridge gaps in the nerves and promote nerve regeneration.
Muscle Tendon Transfer:
Muscle tendon transfer surgery may be performed to improve function and stability in the affected arm. Healthy muscles and tendons are repositioned to compensate for the loss of function in damaged muscles.
Botox injections can be used to manage muscle spasticity and contractures that may develop as a result of brachial plexus injuries. By temporarily weakening overactive muscles, Botox can improve range of motion.
Chronic pain is a common issue in brachial plexus injuries. Pain management needs may include medications, nerve blocks, and other interventions to alleviate discomfort and improve quality of life.
Orthopedic surgeries may be necessary to address joint contractures, instability, or deformities that can develop due to muscle imbalances and disuse of the affected arm.
Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES):
FES involves the use of electrical stimulation to activate muscles in the paralyzed arm. This technique can help maintain muscle tone and potentially improve function.
Bracing and Splinting:
Customized braces and splints may be prescribed to support the affected arm, maintain proper alignment, and prevent contractures.
Coping with the physical and emotional challenges of a brachial plexus injury can be difficult. Psychological counseling or therapy can provide emotional support and help individuals develop coping strategies.
Various assistive devices, such as adaptive utensils, reaching aids, or specialized tools, can assist individuals in performing daily activities more independently.
In some cases, modifications to the home environment, such as installing handrails or ramps, may be necessary to enhance accessibility and safety.
Expenses Resulting From A Birth Injury
Medical Consultations and Evaluations:
This includes costs related to initial consultations, follow-up appointments, and evaluations by specialists, such as neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, and physical therapists.
Diagnostic Tests and Imaging:
Expenses may include the cost of diagnostic tests like MRI scans, CT scans, and electromyography (EMG) to assess the extent of nerve damage and muscle function.
Costs associated with physical therapy sessions, which are essential for rehabilitation and improving mobility and function in the affected arm.
Expenses related to occupational therapy, focusing on helping individuals regain independence in daily activities and tasks.
This encompasses the associated costs with various surgical interventions, such as nerve transfer surgery, nerve graft surgery, muscle tendon transfer, and orthopedic procedures.
Anesthesia and Surgical Facility Fees:
Anesthesia and surgical facility fees are incurred during surgical procedures and contribute to the overall cost of surgery.
Nerve Blocks and Injections:
Costs associated with nerve blocks and injections used for pain management and muscle spasticity control.
Expenses for medications prescribed to manage pain, muscle spasms, and other symptoms associated with the injury.
Costs for adaptive devices and equipment, such as splints, braces, orthotics, mobility aids, and assistive technology.
Expenses related to modifying the home environment to enhance accessibility and accommodate the needs of individuals with brachial plexus injuries. This may include installing ramps, handrails, and adaptive bathroom fixtures.
Costs associated with counseling or therapy sessions to address the emotional and psychological impact of the injury.
Travel costs may include transportation to and from medical appointments, especially if specialized treatment facilities are located far from the individual’s residence.
These represent only a few of the expenses that you may incur when you have a child suffering from a brachial plexus injury. Other costs include rehabilitation, possible long-term care and support, educational and vocational support, and more. I am here to help you obtain financial compensation to help with medical bills and other treatment options. Call me today, and I’ll Make Them Pay!®
Do you think your child’s brachial plexus palsy was caused by medical malpractice or neglect by a doctor or medical professional? Call me today and we’ll discuss your case. I will be your advocate and “I’ll Make Them Pay!®” so your child can receive the proper treatment and therapies to help them live a full and happy life.