Medical Malpractice Birth Injuries: Brachial Palsy
There are many different types of injuries that a birth injury lawyer New York, NY can provide could encounter. Brachial palsy injuries are some of the more common birth injuries that may occur. As an experienced birth injury lawyer New York, NY families trust, we want to share some of this information with our readers.
During childbirth, sometimes an infant’s shoulders become trapped in the mother’s pelvic bone during delivery. This is called shoulder dystocia. If a physician pulls too hard or uses incorrect technique while attempting to deliver the baby, the baby’s brachial plexus can be damaged. The brachial plexus is the bundle of nerves responsible for movement in the arms and hands. Two common types of brachial plexus injuries include Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s paralysis.
Erb’s palsy is an injury that occurs when the nerves in a baby’s upper arm are damaged. It usually occurs as a result of a lesion at Erb’s point, the area near the baby’s neck where the fifth and sixth cranial nerves merge to create the upper point of the brachial plexus. The nerves in the brachial plexus give movement and feeling to the baby’s arm, hand, and fingers.
Infants with this condition usually can’t move the affected shoulder or upper arm, but they may be able to wiggle their fingers. The injury can affect the baby’s whole trunk, and the spinal cord’s ability to send messages to the arm, wrist, hand, or fingers through normal nerve impulses. Babies with Erb’s palsy often look as if their arm in the affected area is paralyzed.
Klumpke’s Paralysis and Global Brachial Plexus Palsy
Erb’s palsy refers only to brachial plexus damage to the upper nerves. If nerves on both the upper and lower ends of the brachial plexus are stretched and injured, the result can lead to a more severe condition known as total brachial plexus palsy or global brachial plexus palsy.
Klumpke’s paralysis is a form of paralysis involving the muscles of the forearm and hand. It results from a brachial plexus injury in which the eighth cervical (C8) and first thoracic (T1) nerves are injured either before or after they have joined to form the lower trunk.
How Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries Occur
These nerve injuries often occur during a difficult labor, and as a birth injury lawyer New York, NY offers can tell you, these injuries can happen in different ways.
For example, when the baby is passing through the birth canal at an awkward angle, with the head being turned to one direction while the arm is being pulled in the opposite direction, this is one way the nerves may sustain damage. Excessive pulling on the shoulders is also common in cephalic presentation, when the baby is delivered face-first. Both circumstances can involve cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD), when the baby is disproportionately bigger than the birth canal.
In other cases, the brachial plexus nerves can be stressed and injured when the baby’s arms are pulled backward over the head as the delivering physician pulls the newborn from the birth canal by the legs during a breech birth. In some cases, shoulder dislocation also occurs, but as a NYC birth injury lawyer might explain, the forceful stretching always causes nerve damage to the baby’s brachial plexus.
Excessive maternal weight gain, infants with high birth weight, and infants in the breech position are some of the risk factors of a brachial plexus injury occurring during childbirth. The use of forceps and/or vacuum extraction tools during delivery and the second stage of labor lasting over an hour are also risk factors.
Effects of a Brachial Plexus Injury
Mild cases of Erb’s palsy may clear up within three to six months with physical therapy. Around 70 to 80% of all Erb’s palsy cases will usually clear up within a year, as long as proper and consistent treatment is provided. The younger the infant is when treatment begins, the better the results tend to be.
In some cases, infants may live with lifelong problems due to Erb’s palsy. Although such cases are rare, children with Erb’s palsy may suffer permanent functional loss in the affected arm. Abnormal muscle contractions may also become permanent. It is important to seek treatment options early. Parents who cannot afford medical treatment for their child are urged to contact a birth injury lawyer New York, NY families count on to discuss possible legal remedies.
Contact a Birth Injury Lawyer in New York, NY
Although no amount of money can ever make up for a birth injury, an injury settlement may help families adjust to their “new normal” and pay for important medical care. If your child has sustained a birth injury, please call Okun, Oddo & Babat, P.C. to speak with a birth injury lawyer New York, NY parents trust.