Chicago Brachial Plexus Injury Lawyer
Brachial plexus injuries are also known as brachial plexus palsy, Erb’s palsy, or Klumpke’s palsy, all of which are complications of shoulder dystocia.
For any woman who is pregnant, you know those 9 months are long ones. You have much time to sit and ponder dreams and picture the perfect life with your little one. One thing you don’t expect is a complication in the delivery room and your sweet baby left with arm paralysis and severe nerve damage. And when this is a result of a doctor’s mistake which could have been avoided, it’s natural to feel anger. Your child has to suffer and go through many years of trauma and doctor’s visits, all due to poor planning and decision making from the medical professionals.
What is brachial plexus?
Brachial plexus injuries are also known as brachial plexus palsy, Erb’s palsy, or Klumpke’s palsy, all of which are complications of shoulder dystocia. In the birth canal, your baby’s shoulders are perpendicular to the floor, too wide to come through a narrow pelvis. Your doctor then has to use force and pull the infant’s delicate body out. The nerves between the neck and shoulder to the spinal cord are damaged, causing numbness and arm paralysis. This situation can be avoided completely by examining the risk factors beforehand such as a history of large babies, gestational diabetes, a small pelvis, excessive maternal weight gain and obesity.
Symptoms of Brachial Plexus
Brachial plexus injury is a term used to describe several conditions that disrupt or limit the network of nerves that carries neuroelectric signals to and from the spinal cord. Brachial plexus injuries are caused by trauma before or during delivery. There are a variety of symptoms that may range from being mild to severely limiting depending on the cause and location of the injury.
Brachial Plexus Injury
Brachial plexus injury occurs in 2 out of 1,000 live births. Difficult or lengthy labor, breech presentation, the use of forceps or vacuum, twin or multiple pregnancy, or a larger-than-usual baby can lead to brachial plexus injury and related conditions including Erb’s palsy. Brachial plexus injuries occur when the infant’s shoulder becomes lodged against the mother’s pubic bone, preventing the baby from passing through the birth canal. This condition is known as shoulder dystocia and requires interventions such as the use of forceps, use of a vacuum, or twisting the baby to free the shoulder.
These maneuvers may cause an injury to the brachial plexus nerves or cause Erb’s palsy. Safely delivering the baby is of critical importance under these circumstances; however, in some cases, physicians, nursing staff, or midwives may act without proper care and cause injury.
Symptoms of Brachial Plexus Injury
Brachial plexus injuries vary in severity and type and the symptoms range from mild to severe disability including total loss of sensation or motion of the hand or shoulder. Brachial plexus affects only one arm, but can happen to either arm. If the brachial plexus injury is minor, such as when the nerves are stretched or compressed, symptoms may not last a long time. Symptoms of brachial plexus injuries may include:
- Arm bent at the elbow and held against the body.
- Failure to move the lower or upper arm.
- Affected arm “flops” when newborn is rolled from side to side.
- Weaker grip on the affected side of the body.
- Absence of Moro reflex on the affected side.
Prognosis of Brachial Plexus
The outlook for babies suffering from brachial plexus depends on the severity of the condition. In case of obstetric brachial plexus, many of the minor symptoms go away on their own with time, and in some cases physical therapy may be required. However, if the brachial plexus injury has caused severe damage to the baby’s nerves, medication and surgery may be required. Mild brachial plexus injuries often heal within 3-6 months. If the infant does not recover within this period, the prognosis is generally poor.
How Common Are Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries?
Child birth is a beautiful experience. However, it can present a number of complexities, putting the health of the mother as well the child in danger. While birth injuries can lead to devastating consequences, the sadly reality is that most birthing injuries are preventable. In this post, our Chicago birth injury lawyers will discuss brachial plexus injuries.
What is a Brachial Plexus Injury?
Brachial Plexus is an injury that affects a baby’s nerves in the shoulder area and occurs during the labor and delivery process. These injuries, are often caused due to medical negligence on part of the healthcare providers, lack of attention to childbirth related complications or difficulties that the laboring mother faces.
There are actually very few factors that can cause brachial plexus injuries during childbirth. New studies on Brachial Plexus injuries are aimed at providing new insights to medical practitioners about the factors that can lead to these injuries, risks associated with these injuries, and making appropriate decisions accordingly.
What Does the Research Say?
A recent study published in Journal of Perinatology has addressed the correlation between Brachial Plexus injuries and multi-parity. According to common belief, women who have had more than one natural or vaginal birth have a decreased risk of injuries like Brachial Plexus injuries in their children. However, the study refutes the claim.
The research was conducted based on data collected from a healthcare facility between October 2003 and March 2013. They studied 78 recorded cases of Brachial Plexus injuries during childbirth. The results were as follows –
- Out of these 78, about 91 percent of Brachial Plexus injury cases occurred during natural childbirth and seven percent during C-sections.
- 58 percent of Brachial Plexus injuries were seen in women with previous natural childbirths, and remaining 42 percent in first time mothers.
The study also discussed difference in birth weight of babies as a factor of occurring Brachial Plexus injuries. According to the study –
- Subsequent pregnancies are usually characterized by large birthweights (a median of 8.95 pounds) as compared to first time mothers (median weight of 7.92 pounds). This indicates that subsequent childbirths may have a higher risk of birth injuries.
Brachial Plexus injuries affect about 0.3 to 2 children out of every 1,000. Considering this number, it is essential to establish a relationship between the type of childbirth and the risks of injury. The study shows that unlike popular belief, women with previous natural births could be exposed to as many risks as women with previous C-section births.
Another concern that the study addressed is that about seventy-five percent of children suffering a Brachial Plexus injury at birth are diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy, resulting in debilitating consequences and permanent disabilities.
Lasting life impairment at great cost to you
The damage due to brachial plexus can be significant and the pain associated intense. The nerve damage often causes inability to use the arm, a short and withered appearance, and/or discomfort and pain when using or stretching it. Basic functions become an incredibly arduous ordeal. Watching your precious child go through something like this is heart wrenching and the physical therapy, surgeries, and doctor’s visits over time will greatly affect your finances. Why should you and your child suffer due to a doctor’s poor judgment?