Brachial Plexus Injury

If you or your spouse is pregnant, you have to be extremely grateful that there has never been a better time to have a child. Regarding safety, you have very good chances of having an uneventful (relatively speaking) birthing process that results in a perfectly healthy child. That being said, you probably already know that complications, while rare, still happen and, sometimes, they can result in injuries that will have permanent consequences. One example you need to understand before the big day is an injury to the brachial plexus.

The brachial plexus is located on either side of your head, roughly between your neck and shoulders. This cluster of nerves is essentially in charge of carrying messages from your brain to your shoulder, arm, and hand.

The Brachial Plexus

Although the brachial plexus will become fairly durable with age, early on it is quite delicate. It consists of five roots and three trunks that eventually split into six divisions, which then go on to form back into three cords. Overall, the brachial plexus is made up of over a dozen nerves.

If just one of these nerves gets damaged early in life, it can have ramifications for the rest of a person’s life. The spine could also get injured and end up having an effect on the brachial plexus.

How Erb’s Palsy Occurs

When injuries occur to the brachial plexus during childbirth, usually, Erb’s Palsy is the result. This is when the damage happens to one of the upper nerves of the cluster. While in some rare instances Erb’s Palsy has been diagnosed after an injury later in life, this is almost always something that happens during labor.

One of the most common reasons for Erb’s Palsy is because the physician in charge of the birthing process pulled on the infant’s arm. If they pulled too hard, the nerves could be stretched beyond what they’re able to handle an injury happens.

The baby could need to be cleared from the birth canal for a few reasons. If the mom is obese, the canal may not be very wide to begin with. Likewise, if the child has an above-average weight at the time of birth, just about any canal might not be enough to move the baby through. Even very small women can have children with Erb’s Palsy because of this.

Cesarean section is recommended in situations like this. However, like we just mentioned, if one isn’t being performed, the doctor might feel they have no choice but to pull the child free by their arm.

Symptoms of Brachial Plexus

It can be tough to tell if your child has sustained damage to their brachial plexus. Many parents don’t find out for a few months. After all, you don’t expect your child to be using all of their limbs perfectly during this time.

Still, you should keep a close eye on them if there were complications. If you notice that they seem to favor one arm while the other sits awkwardly at their side or turned out with their palm facing away, it’s possible they have Erb’s Palsy, and you should see a doctor right away.

Brachial Plexus Injuries and Medical Malpractice

You’ll also want to speak to the doctor about the possibility of the physician attending your labor being responsible for the injury. The next step would be seeing an experienced attorney about the matter.

Just because the doctor did the right thing at the time doesn’t mean the whole situation wasn’t preventable. If their negligence is to blame, you have a malpractice suit on your hands.

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