Brachial Plexus Injuries in Newborns

Posted By Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law

1 Sep. 2015

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that originates in the neck and branches out to control movement and sensation in the shoulders, arms, and hands.

A "brachial plexus" injury is a general term that refers to a variety of injures that hinder the function of the brachial plexus nerves. The majority of brachial plexus injuries are caused by trauma and in newborns, they often occur during a complicated delivery.

During childbirth, a baby's shoulder can get trapped inside the mother's pelvis. If the obstetrician isn't gentle and pulls or tugs too hard in an effort to deliver the baby, the brachial plexus nerves can stretch or tear – a condition called shoulder dystocia.

The child's chances of a full recover depend on the severity of the injury. If the child suffers from Erb's Palsy, this means that the injury caused a loss of motion around the shoulder and elbow.

On the other hand, if the child has Klumpke's Palsy, then the child suffers a loss of motion in the wrist and hand. The infant may also experience a drooping eyelid on the opposite side.

Types of Brachial Plexus Injuries

There are different types of brachial plexus injuries, some of which include:

  • Avulsion – the nerve has been pulled away from the spinal cord and there is no hope of recovery.
  • Neurotemsis – the entire nerve has divided and the prognosis is very poor.
  • Rupture – the nerve has been stretched and is somewhat torn.

A brachial plexus injury can lead to pain, decreased grip on affected side, sensation loss, the arm bent at elbow and held against the infant's body, and in severe cases, complete or partial paralysis in the affected nerves.

While some babies will fully recover within 3 months, others have a poor outlook and often endure multiple corrective surgeries throughout their childhood.

Branchial plexus injuries in newborns are often a result of medical negligence. If you suspect that your child's injury was due to medical malpractice, contact our Bergen County Personal Injury Attorney Brandon, J. Broderick right away for legal advice!

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