The brachial plexus is a group of nerve fibers which run from the spine through the neck, armpit and arm. With the exception of two areas, the brachial plexus is responsible for the nerve impulses affecting both the skin and muscles.
Sometimes, when babies are born, the brachial plexus can be injured, resulting in paralysis or severe nerve damage of the shoulder, arm or hand. Brachial plexus injuries are also called Erbs palsy. Approximately one or two out of every thousand babies will be born with Erb’s palsy. These injuries usually occur during a difficult delivery, such as having a large baby, a breech birth or prolonged labor. And sometimes, when the mother is improperly positioned during birth, or if the doctor or nurse assisting in the delivery uses too much force when extracting the baby, this type of injury can be prevented.
Four Types of Brachial Plexus Injuries
- Stretch/Neuropraxia/Praxis Injury – The brachial plexus has been damaged, but not torn. Swelling, bruising, compression, or over-stretching may occur. This type of injury may heal over time.
- Neuroma – Scar tissue around the injury prevents the nerves from communicating properly with the muscle. Surgery is often the only way to remove the scar tissue.
- Rupture – The brachial plexus has been torn in one or more places, but the nerves are not detached from the spinal column. Damage is usually permanent, and surgery may be required.
- Avulsion – This is the most serious type of injury, where the nerve is torn from the spine. These injuries can permanently damage the affected areas.
With all four types of injuries, the varying areas affected will show different symptoms. However, Erb’s palsy is associated with something called Shoulder Dystocia. This happens with the fetal head has been delivered, but the mother’s pelvic bone is blocking the baby’s shoulders. This can cause oxygen deprivation, which can cause neurological problems, brachial plexus injuries, or kill the baby.
Because there are protocols set up in hospitals to avoid these types of injuries, there is no reason why your child should have to suffer from Erb’s palsy. If you feel that your child’s injuries could have been avoided, please contact Weiss & Paarz, P.C. to find out if you can file a medical malpractice suit.