Brachial plexus injuries are among the most common forms of birth injury. They can range from mild and temporary to serious and permanent. Babies born with brachial plexus injuries often face an uphill battle on the road to recovery.
The brachial plexus is a network of nerves running from the spine through the neck, armpit, and the surrounding upper arm area. It is responsible for feeling, sensation, and movement in the upper arm, forearm, and hand.
These nerves can get damaged or even torn during delivery when a doctor pulls too hard on a baby’s head or body or otherwise improperly positions the infant or exerts too much force.
Common causes of brachial plexus injuries include:
- Failure to recommend Caesarian section for a large baby
- Failure to follow the appropriate protocol for either shoulder dystocia or breech birth
- Improper use of a vacuum extractor
Below, we will cover two of the most common forms of brachial plexus damage.
Erb’s Palsy: Common Birth Injury Involving the Brachial Plexus Nerves
Erb’s palsy is a specific form of brachial plexus injury. It most commonly results from shoulder dystocia, in which a baby’s head emerges from the birth canal but one or both shoulders become lodged behind the maternal public bone.
Erb’s palsy usually presents as follows:
- Partial or complete paralysis of one arm
- A limp or soft appearance of the arm
- Possible bruising in the neck or shoulder (only in some cases)
- Baby evidences a lack of sensation in the arm.
- Arm hangs by the side of the body with the forearm extended.
- Baby has little to no ability to lift the arm out from his or her side.
- The baby may or may not be in pain.
Klumpke’s Palsy:Less Common Complication
Closely related to Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy (also referred to as “Klumpke’s paralysis” or “Dejerine-Klumpke palsy”) involves injury to the lower roots of the brachial plexus nerves. While the causes are similar, Klumpke’s palsy is much less common than Erb’s palsy.
Klumpke’s palsy usually presents as follows:
- Involuntary formation of a “claw hand”
- Limpness or paralysis in the arm and/or hand
- Little to no ability to use the hand or arm
- Muscle atrophy
- Droopy eyelid and constricted pupil (usually on the opposite side of the affected arm)
- Baby evidences a lack of sensation in the arm or hand.
- Joint stiffness
- Numbness in the injured nerves
- The baby may or may not experience significant pain.
Get Help from a Our Attorneys
If your baby has suffered from Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy, or any other birth injury related to the brachial plexus nerves, you could be entitled to financial compensation.
Contact our office as early as possible to schedule a free consultation with experienced birth injury attorneys and learn more about your rights under the law.