What is the Brachial Plexus?
The Brachial Plexus is a crucial area of the spine which houses the nerve network that sends signals from the spine to the arms, hands, and shoulders. While all areas of the spine are sensitive, the Brachial Plexus is particularly vulnerable. For new born babies, the Brachial Plexus is especially vulnerable. Any injuries to this area can cause permanent and debilitating damage.
What is a Brachial Plexus Injury?
A brachial plexus injury occurs when the nerves are compressed, stretched, or in the most severe cases, severed or torn from the spinal cord. Minor brachial plexus injuries can be treated, however serious injuries can leave one or both arms paralyzed, coupled with a loss of function and feeling. Surgical procedures including muscle transfers, nerve grafts, and nerve transfers can help restore arm function. However, in babies and children this may not be an option, and the injuries can be permanent.
What is Brachial Plexus Palsy?
Brachial plexus palsy is a condition that is similar in appearance to cerebral palsy and Erb’s Palsy. The condition occurs when there is permanent damage to this area of the spine, and it can affect everything from the fingertips to the shoulder, and even neck and face if the damage is severe enough.
There are several types of brachial plexus injuries. They include an avulsion, or tearing of the nerve from the spinal cord, or a rupture, which involves the nerve tearing away from the spinal cord. Scar tissue can also collect around the injured area resulting in a neuroma or stretching of the nerve. However, the most commonly known injury is shoulder dystocia.
Factors That Can Contribute to Brachial Plexus Injury
Newborns can sustain this sort of injury when there are problems during birth, including but not limited to:
- Breech birth (feet first birth)
- Prolonged labor
- Large birth weight contributing to difficult birth
- Excessive force used with forceps during birth
- Excessive force used with vacuum during birth
When the upper nerves in the spine suffer damage, patients risk developing a condition called Erb’s Palsy. When both the upper and lower nerves of the spine are damaged, this results in brachial plexus birth palsy – which can be far more devastating.
Experienced Brachial Plexus Lawyer
If you suspect your child may have suffered a severe brachial plexus injury, there is a limited amount of time in which to file a claim. Call Lopez McHugh immediately for a confidential, no obligation consultation.