Klumpke’s palsy is a lower brachial plexus birth injury that affects approximately .02% of all babies born in the United States. The brachial plexus is a delicate network of nerves that originates from the spinal cord and stretches across the shoulder area. These critical nerve fibers conduct signals down a person’s chest, shoulder, arm, and hand, and are responsible for controlling movement and sensibility throughout the upper extremity.
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What Causes Klumpke's Palsy?
A baby can suffer Klumpke’s palsy if the first thoracic nerve (T1) and the eighth cervical nerve (C8) are damaged during a difficult delivery. Unlike other brachial plexus injuries, which tend to affect the shoulder and upper arm, the symptoms of Klumpke’s palsy involve the partial or complete paralysis of the forearm and hand.
This type of injury can also trigger the development of Horner’s syndrome, a congenital disorder that is characterized by facial paralysis, drooping eyelids, and iris heterochromia.
When Medical Malpractice is to Blame
Most cases of Klumpke’s palsy are the direct result of medical malpractice and an improperly performed delivery. An attending doctor or obstetrician can easily stretch, scar, or compress the T1 and C8 nerves if they try to forcibly remove a child from the birth canal. If a doctor’s actions are responsible for your child’s Klumpke’s palsy diagnosis, you may have grounds to pursue restitution by filing a birth injury claim.
AWard-winning representation backed by 50+ years of combined experience
If you require legal representation, contact the award-winning New Jersey birth injury lawyers at The Donnelly Law Firm as soon as possible. Our skilled and compassionate legal team has over 50 years of collective experience and the resources to effectively represent your claim.
Our reputation isn’t without merit – we know how to investigate a birth injury case and collect evidence that proves your doctor failed to uphold the standard duty of care. With our help, you can recover damages that facilitate your child’s recovery and safeguard their quality of life.
Klumpke’s Palsy & Medical Malpractice
As previously stated, Klumpke’s palsy is often the result of a traumatic vaginal delivery. For example, if a larger baby gets lodged in the birth canal, the attending physician needs to determine which method of removal is both appropriate and safe for the infant. The C8 and T1 nerves can be torn and damaged if an experienced or frantic doctor tries to forcibly extract the baby from the birth canal by the arm.
Likewise, it’s not uncommon for a baby’s shoulders to get wedged beneath the mother’s pubic bone, a scenario commonly referred to as shoulder dystocia. This is a serious and life-threatening birth complication that can put pressure on the baby’s head and neck, tearing the nerves and cutting off their oxygen supply. Medical staffers need to constantly monitor the baby for fetal distress and oxygen deprivation and take steps to circumvent any dangerous complications and situations.
How Klumpke's Palsy could have been prevented
The lawyers at The Donnelly Law Firm have represented countless families in birth injury and medical malpractice cases. We have a comprehensive understanding of the litigation process and know which questions the court will ask to determine how a medical professional could have prevented a brachial plexus birth injury.
For example, a doctor could have used one of the following procedures to protect your baby from harm:
- McRoberts maneuver
- Woods/Rubens maneuver
- Suprapubic pressure
- Zavanelli maneuver
Long-Term Consequences of Klumpke's Palsy
There are four types of brachial plexus birth injuries: neuropraxia, rupture, avulsion, and neuroma. Nueropraxia is when the nerve has been stretched, but not torn, and is the most common cause of Klumpke’s palsy. In most cases, a baby can recover from this type of injury after about 3-6 months.
However, severe brachial plexus injuries can result in permanent nerve damage and life-changing disabilities. For instance, if the T1 and/or C8 nerves are completely severed from the spinal cord (avulsion), the baby may suffer complete upper limb paralysis and other serious medical complications. The best way to treat rupture (torn, but not at the spinal cord) and avulsion injuries is to reattach the torn nerves through a surgical procedure.
Symptoms of Klumpke’s palsy include, but are not limited to:
- C8/T1 dermatome distribution numbness
- The “claw hand”
- Loss of sensation in the limb
- Severe pain
- A weak grip
- Stiff joints
- Limp or paralyzed arm
- Muscle atrophy
- Horner’s syndrome
If your child is suffering the symptoms of Klumpke’s palsy, it may be time to discuss your case with a qualified legal representative. Our New Jersey birth injury attorneys can evaluate your baby’s medical records, consult with leading medical experts and specialists, and collect critical evidence to develop a litigation strategy that holds the negligent doctor and hospital accountable for your child’s condition. With our help, you can recover economic and noneconomic damages that account for your child’s existing and potential medical expenses, physical therapy costs, and more.
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As a law firm, we’re dedicated to helping the wrongfully injured secure justice through litigation. This passion drives us to obtain favorable settlements and verdicts on behalf of our clients who have been injured by the actions of negligent medical professionals.
It also motivates us to provide our clients with compassionate guidance, personalized legal services, and zealous advocacy through each stage of the litigation process. If you’re ready to take legal action, contact The Donnelly Law Firm today.