The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that originates in the spinal cord at the neck and stretches to the axilla. This intricate plexus encompasses five nerves that conduct signals to a person’s shoulder, arm, and hand. Each sensitive nerve is responsible for controlling the movement, sensibility (feeling), and muscle function of the upper limb. Because this plexus is so delicate, it can be torn or damaged easily, especially during the birthing process.
what causes damage to the brachial plexus?
Each year, approximately 3 out of every 1,000 babies born in the United States suffer a debilitating brachial plexus birth injury. This condition is characterized by the partial or complete paralysis of an infant’s upper limb and is often the consequence of a difficult birth.
Sometimes, these injuries are directly caused by the attending obstetrician, who may stretch, compress, or tear the nerves just to remove the baby from the birthing canal. This scenario is considered an act of medical malpractice.
contact a firm with over 50 years of combined experience
Contact the New Jersey birth injury lawyers at The Donnelly Law Firm if you believe your baby has suffered a brachial plexus injury due to the negligent actions of a medical professional. Our compassionate and trial-tested legal team are recognized as leaders in the field of birth injury litigation. With over 50 years of collective legal experience, you can trust that our attorneys have the skills and resources to effectively represent and even maximize your claim.
We’ve recovered over $140 million on behalf of our clients. Contact The Donnelly Law Firm at (800) 398-1866 to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation.
The Dangers of a Brachial Plexus Birth Injury
The birthing process can be a stressful and painful ordeal for both mother and child, especially in circumstances where the doctor must resolve a serious and sudden complication. For this reason, the infant needs to be continuously monitored for fetal distress and oxygen deprivation.
Before a nerve injury can occur, the attending physician needs to decide if an emergency cesarean section (c-section) can safeguard the baby’s health and safety. A mother can file a negligence claim if the doctor fails to perform a timely c-section or accidentally injures her baby’s brachial plexus during the procedure.
The following factors can put your baby at additional risk of sustaining a brachial plexus birth injury:
- Prolonged labor
- Breech birth
- Shoulder dystocia
- The use of forceps or a vacuum extractor
- Failure to order a timely c-section
- The baby’s shoulders are too wide
- High infant birth weight
The most common scenario for a brachial plexus injury is when the infant’s head and neck are pulled to the side as its shoulders are passing through the birth canal. The doctor needs to think fast before the baby’s shoulder gets stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone. A frantic, inexperienced, or oblivious physician may try to forcibly dislodge the baby by using medical tools or implementing an inadvisable maneuver. These actions can easily strain or tear the nerves in the baby’s brachial plexus.
The following nerve injuries can occur when a doctor stretches a newborn’s neck during the birthing process:
- Neuropraxia – the nerve is stretched, but not torn.
- Rupture – a nerve is torn, but not at the spinal cord.
- Avulsion – the nerve roots are torn from the spinal cord.
Avulsion is the most serious type of brachial plexus birth injury. It occurs when the nerve roots are ripped from the spinal cord. Symptoms of this injury include decreased sensation and muscle function in the baby’s shoulder, arm, and hand. This type of injury can’t heal on its own or be surgically repaired; the only way to treat this injury is for a doctor to complete a nerve transfer.
Brachial plexus birth injuries can lead to other debilitating medical conditions, including:
- Erb’s palsy
- Horner’s syndrome
- Klumpke’s palsy
It’s important that you consult with a qualified birth injury lawyer if you believe your newborn is exhibiting the signs and symptoms of a brachial plexus birth injury. These symptoms can range from minor arm weakness to total paralysis. A medical professional can examine your baby and test their nerves and muscle functions.
The symptoms of a brachial plexus birth injury include:
- Total or partial paralysis (lack of movement)
- A weak grip
- An arm bends toward the body
- An arm hangs limply
At The Donnelly Law Firm, we know what to look for when investigating and collecting evidence for a birth injury claim. Our legal team can evaluate your baby’s medical records, research the doctor’s career history, and even work with medical experts and specialists to develop a thorough litigation strategy. Because we’re experienced in birth injury litigation, we can also calculate the maximum value of your claim and help you pursue a settlement or verdict that reflects your financial needs.
Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Birth Injury Attorney Today
A brachial plexus birth injury can have a lasting impact on your child’s life. Sadly, these injuries are often preventable and the result of human error. If you’re ready to hold a negligent medical professional and/or facility accountable for your child’s condition, contact the New Jersey brachial plexus lawyers at The Donnelly Law Firm today.
Our award-winning legal team has over 50 years of collective legal experience and a comprehensive understanding of this complex field of law. We take pride in providing our clients with personalized legal services, compassionate guidance, and aggressive advocacy. With our guidance, you can secure restitution that accounts for your child’s existing and potential medical expenses.
We provide our services on a contingency fee basis. Contact our New Jersey brachial plexus attorneys at (800) 398-1866 to schedule a consultation today.