The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that transmit signals from the spine to the hand, arm and shoulder. At birth, brachial plexus injuries are common. Sometimes the injury is so severe that the damage on these nerves is permanent meaning the life expectancy of child with celebral palsy is severely threatened.
These injuries often occur as a result of excessive lateral traction on the head of an infant during birth. The excessive traction will free the shoulder from the delicate head and cause injuries to the roots of the nerves. The most commonly affected nerve roots are the C5, C6, and C7. Damage to these nerve roots can cause the infant to suffer avulsion and rupture injuries. There is little hope for recovery from these injuries without surgery. A surgeon will have to reconnect the nerve network to the spine.
Types of Brachial Plexus Injuries
Below a Birth Injury Lawyer states several types of Obstetric brachial plexus injuries. These will depend on the label of trauma inflicted on the nerve.
Neurotmesis- this is the least frequent but most severe injury. It occurs when the external continuity of the nerve is disrupted. A typical example of this type of injury is root avulsion. In this case, the root is torn away from the spinal cord completely. It is an injury that will be permanent, and the infant will have no chance of recovery.
Axonotmesis often occurs when the nerves are partially damaged. While it may not be as severe as the neurotmesis, it can be irreversible if it is significant.
Neurapraxia is a condition that occurs when the nerve has been stretched and compressed, but it is not torn. This is the least severe of all nerve damages. The prognosis for recovery is favourable.
Permanent damage from nerve damage could lead to weakness, paralysis and numbness of the shoulder and arm. These can be the most common consequence of the brachial plexus injury. These injuries are often because of medical negligence and may not be detected until after the child is born.
What Makes This Injury Malpractice?
According to studies, this condition is due to traction applied to shoulder, neck and head by the midwife at the birth. The injury occurs from the mechanical force during delivery, especially when the shoulders are wedges underneath the pelvic bone. For this condition, the doctor will see the head come out and then retract. This should be a clear sign that something is stuck. The doctor will then help the baby maneuver. The process should take 3-5 minutes. Clear malpractice is if the doctor does this in 1 minute or less. It is also malpractice if they used forceps or suction as excessive force will damage nerves. This injury rarely occurs in the uterus as there is not enough force to damage nerves.
What Are Your Options?
When your infant’s nerves are damaged as a result of malpractice, you can file a medical malpractice claim against the healthcare provider who delivered your baby. The compensation from the lawsuit will help you pay for the expensive treatment, surgeries and therapy. Speaking to a Birth Injury Lawyer about your potential case will not cost you anything.