Jun 16 2016

Did Your Newborn Infant Suffer from a Brachial Plexus Injury?

Childbirth is stressful enough for expectant parents. What can make it a traumatic experience for them is to find that their infant has suffered brachial plexus injuries during the childbirth process.

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that conducts signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm and hand. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), during birth, brachial plexus injuries occur when the infant’s shoulder gets caught at the pubic bone during delivery, or the doctor tries to force the baby out by pulling too hard, causing the baby’s brachial plexus nerves to become stretched or torn. The child may suffer from paralysis of either the upper brachial plexus (known as Erb-Duchenne, or Erb’s, palsy) or the lower brachial plexus, which is referred to as Dejerine-Klumpke (or Klumpke’s) palsy. Those with Erb’s palsy may lose motion around the shoulder and around the elbow, according to Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, while those with Klumpke’s palsy cannot move their wrist or hand.

Johns Hopkins Medicine lists six different types of brachial plexus injuries. The prognosis for recovery for each of these injuries is dependent on how complex and severe the injury is. They are:

  • Avulsion — this occurs when the nerve is torn from the spine. Prognosis: no chance for recovery
  • Rupture — the nerve is partially torn and stretched, but not at the spinal attachment
  • Neurapraxia — the nerve is gently stretched or compressed, but not torn. Prognosis: excellent
  • Axonotemesis — the axons (long, slender projections of a nerve cell or neuron) have been cut. Prognosis: moderate
  • Neurotemesis — the entire nerve has been cut. Prognosis: poor
  • Neuroma — the nerve has torn and is now healed, but a tumor has grown from a mass of severed axons, which fail to regenerate. Prognosis: depends on the number of axons that regenerate

Although some of these injuries can heal by the time the child is three to four months old, treatment for brachial plexus injuries includes physical therapy and, in some cases, surgery, according to NINDS.

If your newborn child has been injured or suffered brachial plexus injuries due to a doctor or hospital’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Seeking the guidance of an experienced attorney is vital in protecting your rights. Contact the dedicated, experienced attorneys at Alegria & Barovick LLP for the representation you deserve. Call (914) 761-1133.

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