Brachial plexus injuries can be a heartbreaking consequence of childbirth. They often leave newborns with long-lasting challenges in their shoulder, arm, forearm, hand and fingers. These injuries can occur due to various causes, including medical malpractice.
What is a brachial plexus injury?
A brachial plexus injury affects the nerve network responsible for muscle control and sensation in the upper extremities. In newborns, these injuries are often referred to as neonatal brachial plexus palsy, brachial plexus birth palsy or Erb’s palsy, depending on the specific location and extent of nerve damage.
A brachial plexus injury can occur when the baby’s neck is excessively stretched to one side during childbirth. If a significant force stretches or tears these nerves, or pulls the nerve roots from the spinal cord, it can result in the following symptoms:
- Full or partial loss of movement, particularly in the shoulder and elbow
- Weakened grip strength
- Numbness in the affected area
- An abnormal arm position, which may include the arm bending toward the body or hanging limply
Treating brachial plexus injuries
Fortunately, most infants with brachial plexus injuries eventually regain movement and feeling in the affected arm. Severe cases may require a team of specialists, including neurosurgeons, neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, physical medicine and rehabilitation experts, occupational therapists and physical therapists.
Treatment options may include:
- Nerve grafts: This involves using nerves from other parts of the body to repair the damaged brachial nerve. Additionally, nerve grafts can be reinforced with a nerve framework from an organ donor or a manufactured nerve growth guide to aid in nerve regeneration.
- Nerve transfer: In some cases, a healthy nerve from the same area or some of its fibers may be used to restore injured nerve connections.
- Muscle transfer: A muscle, typically harvested from the child’s thigh, can replace a paralyzed muscle in the affected arm.
- Tendon transfer: Tendons from functioning muscles near the shoulder can be moved to enhance arm movement and control.
After surgery, it may take eight months or longer for new nerve function to manifest. Improvements may continue for up to 18 months or more post-surgery.
Early detection and intervention are crucial for a baby’s full recovery from a brachial plexus injury. Delayed diagnosis and treatment can lead to more complex medical issues and prolonged suffering for the child and their family. If you suspect that medical negligence or malpractice played a role in your child’s brachial plexus injury, call the Law Offices of Tim Misny today.
Discuss your case with an Ohio birth injury lawyer
The Law Offices of Tim Misny can help you with your birth injury case. When you’re the victim of negligence or recklessness, I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call my office at 800-556-4769 so that I can evaluate your case right away.