Brachial Plexus Injury
Brachial Plexus Injury Attorney in San Antonio
Childbirth is an intense and beautiful experience for both the child and the mother. That’s why it’s crucial for the delivering physician to take extreme care during the birthing process. Any wrong move could result in major birth injuries, such as a brachial plexus injury.
A birth injury is physically, emotionally, and financially devastating to the child and the whole family. Often in the birth injury cases we handle, one mistake from medical professionals results in a lifetime of suffering and thousands of dollars in medical treatment. That’s why the legal team at our San Antonio, TX law firm is so passionate about winning maximum compensation for victims through a birth injury lawsuit. We are ready to begin our attorney-client relationship with you so that you and your child can receive justice. Call an experienced birth injury lawyer today at 210-366-4949 for a free consultation.
Brachial Plexus Anatomy
Before we go into the specifics of brachial plexus injuries in babies, it’s important to first understand brachial plexus anatomy. The brachial plexus is basically a group of nerves that begin in the cervical and thoracic regions of the spinal cord. These nerves travel down the arms, hands, and fingers and control movement. Additionally, these nerves send pain signals to the brain if you happen to smash your finger or touch a hot pan. The brachial plexus ends with five nerve branches in the arm. They are the:
- Musculocutaneous Nerve: This nerve begins in the C5, C6, and C7 vertebrae and it controls muscles in the upper arm.
- Axillary Nerve: This nerve begins in the C5 and C6 vertebrae. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to rotate or lift your arms.
- Median Nerve: This nerve begins in the C6-T1 vertebrae. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to move muscles in your forearms and hands.
- Radial Nerve: This nerve begins in the C5-T1 vertebrae and allows you to move muscles in your hands, forearms, upper arms, and elbow.
- Ulnar Nerve: Lastly, this nerve begins in the C8-T1 vertebrae and allows you to move your fingers.
What is a Brachial Plexus Injury?
A brachial plexus injury is a common birth injury that can completely prevent movement of the arms, hands, or fingers. In some cases though, people can suffer decreased motor control and sensation due to their injury. The severity of the injury and the symptoms depend on which nerves are damaged.
Babies aren’t the only ones who can suffer from this injury. Adults can suffer damaged or injured brachial plexus nerves from sports accidents, car accidents, surgeries, and various medical treatments.
Brachial Plexus Injury Types
There are many types of brachial plexus injuries. Categorization of these injuries is dependent on how the nerves are damaged (e.g. were they torn or stretched?) and the severity of the damage.
Neuropraxia is a medical term for the stretching of nerves. There is compression neuropraxia and traction neuropraxia. The former occurs when the nerves are compressed and the latter occurs when the nerves are forcefully pulled downward. The most common complaint among patients who suffer from brachial plexus neuropraxia is burning and stinging pain.
This type of injury occurs when the brachial plexus nerves are partially or completely torn. A rupture is more severe than neuropraxia. Additionally, this injury is much more painful.
A neuroma is also known as a pinched nerve. This type of injury occurs when an injured brachial plexus nerve attempts to heal itself by forming scar tissue. The scar tissue then forms a knot on one of the nerves which can cause pinching pain down the arm.
Brachial neuritis is a rare condition that causes severe pain in the shoulder and arm. Some people can even suffer paralysis in the arms and hands. Doctors don’t fully understand why this injury occurs. Some medical professionals believe that brachial neuritis is the result of an autoimmune response from childbirth, infections, and injuries.
This is the most severe brachial plexus injury. It occurs when the nerves completely separate from the spinal cord due to physical trauma. Unfortunately, patients who have suffered this injury will likely experience lifelong disability and paralysis in the arms.
Symptoms of a Brachial Plexus Injury in Babies
A brachial plexus injury can have devastating effects on both babies and adults. Symptoms generally depend on the location and severity of the injury. For example, if a difficult birth injures the nerve roots that are higher up in the baby’s neck, then they will likely suffer shoulder pain and mobility issues. However, if childbirth injures nerve roots that are in the lower neck and upper back, the baby will likely experience lower arm and hand pain. Common symptoms of brachial plexus injuries in babies include:
- Muscle weakness in the shoulder, arm, or hand
- General lack of mobility in the upper body
- Bone fractures in the clavicle or humorous
- Excess crying or fussiness due to pain
Is Erb’s Palsy a Type of Brachial Plexus Injury?
Yes, Erb’s palsy is the most common type of brachial plexus palsy in infants. According to the Cleveland Clinic, Erb’s Palsy occurs in approximately 12,000 births per year in the U.S.
Causes of Brachial Plexus Injuries
Birth injuries happen due to complications during labor and delivery. Listed below are the most common causes of brachial plexus injuries in newborns.
- Shoulder Dystocia, which is when a baby’s shoulders get stuck in the birth canal. This may cause a delivering physician to use excessive force in order to get the baby out.
- Improper use of a vacuum or forceps during the birthing process can forcefully pull the baby’s head and neck, resulting in major injury.
- Breech birth, which is when the baby’s feet come out first. Some mothers can safely deliver breech babies vaginally, but it’s safer to deliver breech babies through cesarean section.
- Labor that goes on too long and causes fetal distress.
- Large babies over 8 pounds.
- Delivery of twins or multiples.
Birth injuries are often caused by medical negligence during childbirth. If your doctor’s failure to take extreme care during childbirth resulted in your child’s brain damage, cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, or death, call San Antonio birth injury lawyers at Janicek Law.
Brachial Plexus Injury TreatmentSometimes, brachial plexus injuries can heal without major medical care. For example, it’s certainly possible for a baby to heal from neuropraxia on its own. Severe nerve tears and avulsions, however, may require surgery and even lifelong physical therapy.
Non-Surgical TreatmentA baby who is suffering from a minor brachial plexus injury may recover with the help of the non-surgical treatments listed below.
- Physical therapy exercises such as stretching and moving the affected arm. Over time, these movements will prevent muscle stiffness and weakness.
- A splint or a brace can prevent a baby’s affected arm or hand from twisting in unnatural directions.
- Medications and corticosteroid creams can help with pain during healing, especially if the baby is excessively crying.
Surgical TreatmentIf your child suffered from a brachial plexus rupture or avulsion during birth, they may need one of the surgeries listed below.
- Nerve Repair is basically when a surgeon reconnects a torn nerve.
- Neurolysis is when a surgeon removes scar tissue from a previously injured nerve. This procedure can relieve the pain and immobility caused by pinched nerves.
- Nerve Graft: During this procedure, a surgeon will use a healthy nerve from a different part of the body and connect it to both ends of a separated nerve.
- Nerve Transfer: During this procedure, a surgeon will connect a healthy nerve to a torn one. As a result, patients may be able to regain sensation and mobility in their shoulders and arms.
Types of Damages for Birth Injury CasesUnfortunately, medical negligence can cause a child to suffer serious injuries and disabilities throughout their whole life. That’s why it’s crucial to seek compensation for the sake of your child’s justice and your family’s financial stability. If you’re ready to file a birth injury lawsuit, call the legal team at Janicek Law. We can help you recover compensation for:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future rehabilitation bills
- The cost of medical equipment such as motorized wheelchairs or other mobility aids
- Physical pain and suffering of the mother and the baby
- Emotional distress of the mother, the baby, and the family
- Loss of earning capacity if the child’s injury will prevent them from performing some required job duties
- Loss of future wages if the child’s injury will prevent them from working entirely
- Lost wages for the parent(s) who will have to care for the disabled child
- Decreased quality of life for the child, the parents, and the family