What are brachial plexus birth injuries?

May 5, 2020 | Crandall & Pera Law
What are brachial plexus birth injuries?

Giving birth to a new child in Ohio is an exciting experience for most people. New parents often dream about what the future for their children might hold. However, discovering that a child suffered serious brachial plexus injuries during the birth process can be devastating. These types of injuries may have a permanent impact on the life of a child and may be caused by medical mistakes.

What is a brachial plexus injury?

The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that are located between the shoulder and neck. The nerves that are contained in the brachial plexus innervate the shoulder, arms, hands, and chest and control their ability to feel and function. Brachial plexus injuries during birth may happen when the nerves are torn, stretched, or compressed, resulting in a loss of function or the potential paralysis of an arm. The impact of the injuries will depend on the area of the brachial plexus that is injured and the type of injury that occurs.

Types of brachial plexus injuries

Neurapraxia or a stretch injury to a nerve in the brachial plexus is the most common injury type. The injury to the affected nerve will normally resolve during the baby's first three months of life. Ruptures and avulsions are tear injuries to a nerve. A rupture is a tear that happens outside of the spinal cord while an avulsion happens when the nerve roots are torn away from the spine. Ruptures may require surgery. Avulsions cannot be surgically repaired and may require nerve transfers and surgery to the damaged tissue. An avulsion that affects the nerve that innervates the diaphragm can cause trouble with breathing. If a child suffers from a total brachial plexus injury that damages all five of the nerves, the child might not have any movement in the impacted hand, arm, or shoulder. Severe brachial plexus injuries can result in lifelong disabilities. Parents of children who have suffered from these types of birth injuries may want to consult with experienced medical malpractice lawyers to determine whether they were caused by medical negligence. If they did result from the malpractice of a doctor or other health care professional, the parents might be able to recover compensation for the losses that they and their child have suffered.