The brachial plexus is a complex network of nerves that run from the spinal column to the shoulder. These nerves are responsible for the movement of the shoulder, arm and hand. There are two main types of brachial plexus injuries depending on where the injury has occurred, Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy.
This injury is often caused when excessive lateral traction is applied to the neck, usually because of a difficult delivery. Often this involves the child having difficulty exiting the birth canal. The head can be twisted or the neck bent excessively, that the nerves that extend from the spinal column into the neck can be stretched or torn.
Risk factors of Brachial Plexus Injury
While this injury can occur unexpectedly, there are known risk factors for a brachial plexus injury, which include:
- Obesity of the mother
- A post term pregnancy
- Excessive weight gain during pregnancy
- A baby weighing more than 9 pounds
- Small pelvis.
When this complication presents itself, prompt action by the medical team is needed. The doctor should be vigilant in maneuvering the baby out of the birth canal, and depending on the circumstances, may find that a C-section is warranted.
Types of Brachial Plexus Injuries
- Avulsion: The is where the nerves are torn from the spine
- Rupture: Where the nerves are torn
- Nueroma: Where the nerves have been damaged and scar tissue has formed.
- Nueropraxia: Where the nerve damage is localized in a specific area. This type of damage blocks nerve conduction, and is thought to be the least serious of the brachial plexus injuries.
Treatment for Brachial Plexus Injuries
Sometimes, a brachial plexus injury will be readily apparent. The child could exhibit lack of muscle control, or limpness in the shoulder, arm or hand.
To correctly diagnose the injury, doctors may use and MRI or nerve conduction studies to confirm the diagnosis. Some injuries will heal with time on their own, while other injuries may require physical therapy. In severe cases, doctors can treat the injury with surgery, including nerve grafts, nerve transfer, or muscle transfer surgery.
It is the responsibility of the doctor to recognize that the child may be too big for the birth canal, and a C-section or other medical intervention may be needed. When doctors and medical personnel fail to take appropriate action to avoid these injuries, they may be liable for medical malpractice.
Why You Should Not Delay in Consulting an Attorney
Many birth injuries are preventable and are caused by doctor malpractice. Indiana law imposes strict deadlines (also called “statutes of limitations”) in medical malpractice cases that will forever bar the claim if its not filed in a timely manner. The law relating to the deadline can be exceedingly complex; therefore, one should not delay in consulting a qualified medical malpractice attorney to determine the applicable statute of limitations and review the cases.
Legal Help for Birth-Related Medical Malpractice
If it can be shown that the medical staff did not act appropriately when a potential problem was present, or it can be shown that they did not act in a manner that is consistent with established medical practices, they may be held responsible for medical malpractice.
If you believe that your child has a birth-related illness due to medical malpractice, contact us to have an experienced lawyer review your case. Your family deserves to be compensated for your child’s injuries.