Brachial plexus birth injuries could create lasting issues

| Sep 22, 2016 | birth injuries

When damage occurs to the nerves that run from the spine through the shoulder, down the arm and into the hand, the signals can be disrupted, causing permanent injury. This network of nerves is called the brachial plexus. Newborns here in Delaware and elsewhere who suffer birth injuries to this nerve bundle could have permanent issues that limit what they can do as they grow.

This type of injury often happens when the baby’s shoulders become wedged in the birth canal during delivery. There are four types of injuries to the brachial plexus that an infant can suffer. The first is when the nerve is torn at the spine (avulsion). In the second type of injury, the nerve can be torn, but not where it meets the spinal column (rupture). In a type of injury called a neuropraxia, the nerve is somehow damaged, but remains intact. Lastly, in a neuroma, the scar tissue created by a previous injury can put pressure on the nerve, which disrupts the signals to the arm.

An injury to this nerve bundle can cause paralysis in the arm, lack of muscle control in the extremity or loss of sensation. Many infants who suffer such an injury at birth recover within three to four months. However, some are left with permanent paralysis in the upper brachial plexus, which is referred to as Erb’s Palsy. Others suffer permanent paralysis in the lower brachial plexus, which is called Klumpe’s Palsy.

Either condition can put serious limitations on a child. Delaware parents who are told that their children suffer from either Erb’s Palsy or Klumpe’s Palsy should be aware that there is a possibility that the original birth injuries were caused by an error during delivery. It might be beneficial to speak with an attorney who can help determine whether legal action is appropriate.

Source: ninds.nih.gov, “Erb-Duchenne and Dejerine-Klumpke Palsies Information Page”, Accessed on Sept. 17, 2016