What Causes a Brachial Plexus Injury?


A brachial plexus injury is a type of birth injury that can result from difficulties during delivery, specifically due to damage around the nerves of the baby’s shoulders and neck during the birth process.

If the issues were due to medical malpractice, then you may be entitled to legal compensation resulting from a brachial plexus injury caused to you or a loved one. The experienced attorneys at Raynes & Lawn can assist you with understanding the remedies you may receive and the value of your case.

If you or a loved one has experienced harm due to a brachial plexus injury, you may want to consult with a Philadelphia Birth Injury Attorney to help you understand the legal claims to which you may have.

Types of Brachial Plexus Injuries

Klumpke’s palsy is a form of brachial plexus injury that occurs from damage to the lower arm and may injure the newborn’s movement and feeling in one or both hands.

On the other hand, Erb’s palsy can cause damage to the movement, feeling, and use of the baby’s upper arms and sometimes lower parts of the arms.

Finally, if a baby suffers damage to all five brachial nerves, then there is a global brachial plexus injury.

Severity of Harm Caused

Apart from the name and location of the injury, brachial plexus injuries will vary in the extent of injury caused to the baby. It is possible for some babies with a brachial plexus injury to recover with full capabilities in their hands and arms rather quickly, whereas others may suffer lifelong disabilities.

Neurapraxia occurs when there is a slight tear to a brachial plexus nerve(s). It is the most common form of this injury and usually heals, but may result in pain and stiffness.

Neuroma refers to an injury with extensive tearing in the brachial plexus nerves that results in more severe damage. Even though surgery is sometimes an option, the baby may lose the ability to use one or both arms entirely if the injury rises to this level of severity.

Causes of Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries

Brachial plexus birth injuries may arise due to some of the following common causes:

  • High birth weight, a breech position during birth, and an extended labor period with either blocks or other types of complications.
  • Tears or breaks to a baby’s brachial plexus nerves during delivery or labor due to excessive pulling on the head, shoulders, or neck.
  • Improper use of birth assistance tools during delivery, such as vacuum extraction birth tools or forceps.
  • Maternal health conditions such as diabetes or obesity.

Medical Malpractice

If the doctor acted against the standard of care owed to a patient during the delivery process and was negligent or took harmful actions that most other doctors would not have done in that situation and resulted in a brachial plexus birth injury, then there may be a legal claim for medical malpractice.

This can help you recover for the injury caused to your newborn due to the doctor’s wrongful actions or malpractice that caused a brachial plexus injury.

Brachial Plexus Statistics

Brachial plexus birth injuries are estimated to occur in about two out of every 1,000 live births. They happen when the shoulders are improperly situated in the mother’s pelvic region during birth, and safe delivery is not performed due to failure to recognize and take appropriate steps. Also, they can occur if the doctors and other birth delivery medical professionals take steps that are harmful or risky to the brachial nerves such as improper use of force or tools.

Some of these injuries are minor, and the baby will heal with little long-term damage. However, there is a chance for a lifelong disability when the tear is extensive, or there are multiple nerves damaged. Also, the cause of the injury can correlate with the severity of harm and the recovery time.

Treatment and Severity

Physical therapy is utilized for minor and mild cases. Surgery may also be used for mild injuries. However, if therapy, surgery, and medication do not heal a brachial plexus injury within the 3-6 month period following the birth of a child, then the baby is likely facing lifelong consequences to their ability to use their arms or hands properly.

While there is still a possibility for recovery beyond this period, given the severity of lifelong mobility harm, it may be wise to seek out legal help.

When to Seek a Brachial Plexus Injury Lawyer

If you are considering pursuing a brachial plexus injury legal claim due to harm you or a loved one endured from a brachial plexus injury, then there are a few reasons to consider seeking advice from a brachial plexus injury lawyer. At Raynes & Lawn, there is no fee for consultation and we will not take a fee unless a successful resolution has been reached.

Also, if you are unfamiliar with the legal process, then it is advisable to seek out help from an experienced attorney.
An attorney can additionally assist you in compiling the documents and evidence to best present your claim.

Due to the traumatic and sensitive nature of birth injuries, an attorney can help you through the process while you recover and tend to your family.

Contact Us Today

Here at Raynes & Lawn, we have attorneys experienced in handling brachial plexus injury claims successfully for our clients. To speak with a member of our team, please call us today at 1-800-535-1797 or fill out our contact form.

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