Common Types of Birth Injuries
There are many types of birth-related injuries that can occur during the delivery of a baby.
What Are Brachial Plexus Nerve Injuries?
The brachial plexus is a grouping of nerves located in the shoulder and neck, which transmit signals between the spinal cord and the shoulder, arm and hand. Injuries to the brachial plexus can happen when the shoulder and the head are forcefully pushed away from one another. Brachial plexus nerve injuries (BPIs) are one of the more prevalent forms of injury that occur during childbirth, and a majority of BPIs that occur during birth come about because the baby became stuck during delivery and needed to be physically assisted by a doctor or midwife. When a baby becomes stuck during the birth process, it is considered to be an obstruction of labor, or a dystocia. One of the most common types of dystocia occurs when the baby’s head appears, but the baby’s shoulder gets stuck against the mother’s pelvis. This is called shoulder dystocia. Sometimes, if a doctor or midwife uses excessive force to extract the baby during delivery, it can accidentally cause damage to the brachial plexus nerves. BPIs are either classified by the type of BPI, or by the physical location of the BPI.
Classification of BPIs By Type
The least severe BPI is the stretch BPI. This type of injury occurs when the nerves are stretched. However, damage is usually reversible, healing within a few weeks time. Rupture BPIs occur when the nerves are stretched beyond their limits, thus tearing partially or ripping completely apart. A partial rupture BPI could possibly be repaired by reconnecting the torn nerves to reestablish a signal channel, although a completely torn rupture often never recovers any connectivity in the affected nerves. The most severe type of a BPI is an avulsion, in which the nerve is torn from the spinal cord, effectively leaving a hole. This hole disrupts signals that are being transmitted along the spinal cord. Babies who suffer from an avulsion BPI can have difficulty using their legs on the same side of their body as the injury, or could suffer from stunted grown on the affected side of their body.
Classification of BPIs By Location
As classification by type indicates the nature of the BPI and the extent of the damage, classification by location is indicative of what functions and abilities are impaired or lost. For example, when a BPI is located at the fifth, sixth and/or seventh cervical node in the spine, the injury is termed Erb’s Palsy. Erb’s Palsy typically affects the chest, shoulder, arm, and thumb on the injured side of the body. Klumpke’s Palsy is characterized by a BPI at the eighth cervical node, or first thoracic node in the spine, and primarily affects the mobility of the wrist and hand on the affected side. When damage spans the whole of the brachial nerve connections to the spinal cord, the injury is termed as a “pan injury.”
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a collection of conditions, all characterized by the same basic problem: brain damage sustained during birth from either a lack of oxygen to the brain or trauma. About two out of every one thousand babies is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and it occurs more frequently in premature babies. The injuries associated with cerebral palsy generally affect areas of the brain that control muscle control. As the child develops and grows, symptoms of the cerebral palsy will begin to manifest. The child may have impaired movement, muscle spasms and/or uncontrollable involuntary movements, or problems with ambulation (walking). There may also be an array of cognitive problems, ranging from learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, vision or hearing impairments, or difficulty with speech and the ability to communicate.
Severity of Cerebral Palsy
The severity of cerebral palsy can range from mild to moderate to severe. Severity is generally related to the extent of damage in the brain. It is a non-progressive condition, meaning it does not generally get worse as the child grows.
Four Types of Cerebral Palsy
There are four distinct types of cerebral palsy. The most common form is spastic cerebral palsy, comprising approximately 50-75% of all cases. Muscles that are overly tight, making movement rigid and awkward and making walking very difficult characterize this type of cerebral palsy. Athetoid cerebral palsy makes up between 10-20% of all cases, and is characterized by slow uncontrolled muscle movements and poor muscle control. Ataxic cerebral palsy, which makes up about 5-10% of all cerebral palsy cases, is characterized by poor balance, depth perception and coordination. Lastly, in very few instances, a child may have a mixed form of cerebral palsy, which is a combination of any or all of the previous three types.
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To discuss your Birth Injury case, call our Chicago Birth Injury Attorney today at (312) 957-4166 to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. Initially, we will listen to you and offer you guidance. We see this initial FREE consultation not only as a way for us to get to know you, but also for you to better understand who we are and what we can do, so you can feel comfortable making the decision as to which law firm to hire.
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