Brachial Plexus Palsy

The brachial plexus is a group of nerves which control the arms and hands. When these are injured during birth, brachial plexus palsy can occur in the infant. This means that the signals which send information between the muscles of the arm and brain no longer connect to one another, so some or all of the muscles in the child’s arm may not work.
The most common form of brachial plexus palsy occurs during shoulder dystocia, when there is difficulty delivering the baby’s shoulder. A child with brachial plexus palsy typically loses their ability to flex and move the arm back and forth; depending on the severity of the injury, this condition can last for a few months or can result in permanent nerve damage.
Brachial plexus palsy is not to be confused with Erb’s palsy. While the two are similar, Erb’s palsy is a condition which is limited to the shoulder and elbow muscles.
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What causes Brachial Plexus Palsy?

Sometimes, during a complex or otherwise difficult birth, something called a stretch injury can occur. Stretch injuries are common when a child’s shoulder is stuck within the mother’s pelvis, as the medical team may use excessive force on the child’s head, neck, or shoulders in an attempt to aid delivery. This position, when a child’s shoulder is stuck, is referred to as shoulder dystocia, and is one of the most common reasons that brachial plexus palsy can occur.
Medical professionals undergo training in order to know how much force is too much, and any physician who is found to have caused a stretch injury leading to brachial plexus palsy may be held liable for the ensuing damages to the child.

How is Brachial Plexus Palsy treated?

In some cases, newborns with brachial plexus palsy can recover on their own with no medical intervention. Typically, a doctor would conduct re-examinations on a regular basis to monitor the recovery of the damaged nerves. Sometimes, however, brachial plexus palsy does not go away on its own, and a medical team must put together an appropriate treatment plan for the child.
Brachial plexus palsy can be treated both surgically and nonsurgically. Surgery is normally recommended only in cases where the medical team believes that it offers a significant likelihood for the child to have improved use of the affected arm. For most patients, daily physical therapy is the main component of their treatment, allowing the individual to develop the skills to move more easily.

What are the long-term effects of Brachial Plexus Palsy?

Because of how much time it takes for damaged nerves to heal, the path to recovery from brachial plexus palsy is a slow process. The affected area may take years to grow and return to its full potential.
Even after surgery, many of those who suffer from brachial plexus palsy continue to experience weakness in the shoulder, arm, and hand. Follow-up surgeries may even be ordered to improve function in a specific area of the arm. Some children with brachial plexus palsy make a full recovery, while others continue to experience symptoms which last their entire lives.

Is Brachial Plexus Palsy Caused By Medical Malpractice?

Trauma during birth is a common cause of brachial plexus injuries. If the delivering physician uses excessive force, this might be considered medical negligence. Failure to anticipate a difficult delivery and order a caesarean section might also be malpractice. And even once the baby is born, the doctor must order appropriate testing and consultation.
Any number of negligent actions can lead to a brachial plexus injury. Parents who suspect negligence should contact a birth injury attorney to learn their legal options.

How Can a Lawyer Help With my Child’s Brachial Plexus Palsy?

An attorney can address parents’ concerns about possible medical malpractice and determine whether legal action is appropriate. To make this determination, a lawyer will gather medical records, speak with the parents, and consult with experts. In cases where evidence indicates that proper medical procedures were not followed, a lawyer can file a lawsuit on behalf of the parents and the injured child. Damages for birth injury cases typically cover medical expenses, psychological injury, and loss of future earnings.

Trust Morgan & Morgan

Having a baby born with brachial plexus palsy is a difficult experience for any family. The required treatments place significant financial and emotional strain on the entire family. If your child sustained nerve damage at birth leading to a brachial plexus palsy diagnosis, a knowledgeable and experienced attorney at Morgan & Morgan can help you determine what steps to take next. We charge no upfront fees, and no fees at all unless we win.

Speak With an Attorney for Free

A free, no-obligation is the first step on the path to seeking closure for a birth injury. To speak with an attorney, call (855) 300-4456 or send us a message.
Speak to one of our medically trained legal experts
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