Brachial plexus birth injuries are one of the most common types of birth injuries, affecting thousands of newborns each year. These injuries occur when an infant’s neck is stretched to the side during a difficult delivery, resulting in nerve damage. Often these injuries are caused by the negligence of medical treatment providers.
The brachial plexus is a network of nerve tissue at the spinal cord located near the neck. This system of nerves travels behind the collarbone down and branch out down the arms, generating movement and feeling in the shoulders, arms, hands and fingers.
Generally, injuries to the brachial plexus often occur during a difficult delivery. For example, when a baby is too large for the birth canal or presents as breech, the neck can be stretched too far, damaging the delicate nerves. If complications occur during the birth process, and the medical provider must exert force to pull the baby from the birth canal, the nerves may be torn or damaged.
Some common types of brachial plexus injuries include:
Symptoms of brachial plexus injury can include a weakened grip on the side of the body that has been affected; full paralysis; partial paralysis; limp arm on one or both sides; hands that appear claw-like; and/or a weak Moro reflex in newborns. In some children, the affected arm will be smaller than the healthy arm. The size difference often becomes more pronounced as children grow older.
Most newborns with brachial plexus birth injuries recover on their own, but need frequent medical visits to ensure that recovery is going well. Full recovery can take up to two years. More severe injuries may require daily physical therapy and possibly surgery, which may involve a nerve graft or nerve transfer.
Treatment for birth injuries can be costly. Depending on the severity of the injury, the part of the nerve that was damaged, and costs associated with rehabilitation, you may be entitled to compensation for past and future medical expenses; medication; physical and occupational therapy; in-home treatment; lost wages; and in some jurisdictions, compensation for pain and suffering and/or punitive damages.
If your child suffered an injury to their brachial plexus during birth, our team at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP can help you get the answers and compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation with one of our dedicated New Jersey birth injury lawyers, call us at 732-777-0100 or contact us online. With offices located in Edison, Toms River, and Red Bank, New Jersey, we proudly represent birth injury victims throughout the region.