The brachial plexus is a crucial bundle of nerves that connects the spinal cord to the arms and hands. When it is damaged during birth, results can vary. Mild brachial plexus injuries can heal on their own, but more severe instances require extensive surgeries or cause lifelong disabilities.
If your child has been affected by a brachial plexus injury, our Spohrer Dodd trial attorneys can help. Start today with a phone call to (904) 637-7721.
What Are the Types of Brachial Plexus Injuries?
There are 4 main types of brachial plexus injuries: stretch (neurapraxia), rupture, avulsion, and neuroma. The classification of the injury will depend on whether or not the nerve was torn, and where the nerve resides in relation to the spinal cord.
Outside of, or in addition to, these injuries, children may develop Erb’s palsy, total plexus involvement (paralysis of the shoulder, arm, or hand), or Horner’s syndrome, which affects the eyes and face.
If your child has sustained or developed any of the injuries or disorders in this section, contact our legal team today.
Stretch (Neurapraxia) Injuries
Stretch injuries occur outside of the spinal cord when the nerves are stretched and not torn. This is the most common type of brachial plexus injury, and the associated nerve damage frequently heals on its own during the first 3 months of the baby’s life.
In rupture injuries, the nerve or nerves are torn, but they are not attached to the spine. The injury occurs outside of the spinal cord and is fairly common. Because the nerves are torn, ruptures may require surgical repair.
Avulsion injuries occur at the spinal cord and involve nerve roots being torn from the spine. While it is not a common form of brachial plexus injury, presenting itself in roughly 10-20% of cases, avulsion cannot be repaired directly. Instead, damaged tissue must be completely replaced via nerve transfer surgeries. Avulsion is commonly associated with Horner’s syndrome and can cause droopy eyelid(s), injuries to the diaphragm, and difficulty breathing.
In neuroma injuries, the nerve tries to heal on its own, but scar tissue forms and irritates the injured nerve, interfering with nerve function. Neuroma may require surgical treatment with nerve reconstruction and/or secondary tendon transfers.
What Causes Brachial Plexus Injuries?
Brachial plexus injuries can happen to anyone, regardless of age. They are typically sustained when the arm is forcibly pulled or stretched and are common among football players and other professional athletes, as well as infants. During birth, the following factors can cause brachial plexus injuries:
- Breech (feet-first) delivery, which can put pressure on the baby’s raised arms
- Shoulder dystocia
- Delivering a larger-than-average newborn
- Natural stretching or pulling during a headfirst delivery
- The use of forceps or a vacuum during birth
- Other complications during labor or delivery
If you or your doctor is concerned about a difficult delivery, you should consider having a cesarean delivery or c-section. Some cases may require an emergency c-section, even if the procedure was not previously planned.
In the event that your child’s injury is caused by a failure to consider or apply a c-section, you should speak to our attorneys as soon as possible.
How Can I Tell if My Child Has Suffered a Brachial Plexus Injury?
Depending on the severity of the injury, it may or may not be evident right away. Signs of a brachial plexus injury include:
- Your child’s inability to lift their arm above their head, move their fingers, or bring objects to their mouth
- A full or partial lack of movement in your child
- A weakened grip
- Contortions of the arm (i.e. bending towards the body or hanging limp)
- Apparent numbness, tingling, or pain in your baby’s arms, hands, or fingers
If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, have them diagnosed right away. If the injury is, in fact, a brachial plexus wound, take the next step with Spohrer Dodd.
How We Can Help
If your child has a brachial plexus injury, they may need intensive treatment. Treatment options include physical therapy, nerve grafts, nerve transfers, muscle transfers, and tendon transfers. Your child may have to see a number of specialists, and there’s no guarantee that they will heal completely.
Filing a lawsuit with our firm may help you afford these treatments and can ensure your child’s care moving forward. It will also hold the medical professional who botched your child’s birth accountable.
At Spohrer Dodd, we have over 150 years of collective experience and a history of success handling claims like yours.
To get started, call (904) 637-7721 and request a free consultation at our Jacksonville offices.