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What You Need to Know About Brachial Plexus Injuries

Out of every 1,000 newborns, two will suffer from an injury to the brachial plexus, a group of nerves in the spinal cord that controls motor functions in the elbow, shoulders and hands.

Brachial plexus injuries commonly occur as a result of medical negligence and malpractice when excessive force is used to unlodge a newborn's shoulders from the birth canal or reposition an infant from the breech (feet first) position. A brachial plexus can lead to total brachial plexus palsy, Klumpke's palsy, Erb's palsy and paralysis.

There are four levels of severity when it comes to brachial plexus injuries:


  1. Neuropaxia - A stretching injury that does shocks the nerves rather than tearing or ripping them. This is the least severe form and usually heals without medical treatment.

  2. Neuroma - A stretching injury that damages a few nerve fibers, but is possible to recover from.

  3. Rupture - Nerves are torn during the birthing process.

  4. Avulsion - The brachial plexus nerves are severely torn and separate from the spinal cord. This is both the most severe and most common form of injury.


These injuries occur frequently when a woman has been in labor for an extended period of time; medical professionals overseeing the birth should be vigilant to care for the mother and child and stop long-term and avoidable damage to the child.

Brachial plexus injuries can result in exorbitant costs for long-term care and special education. Any parent of a child with one of these four types of injuries should investigate whether it was caused by medical negligence, as a significant number of brachial plexus injuries are preventable if the mother’s labor and delivery are appropriately managed.

If you believe your child suffered a birth injury due to medical negligence please call to investigate your matter fully. Crandall & Pera Law is available to help answer your questions and guide you in determining your next steps.

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