Harrisburg Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Representing victims of Brachial Plexus Birth Injury
A brachial plexus injury occurs when a bundle of nerves in the neck is injured.
The brachial plexus is a complex network of nerve fibers that run from the spine down through the neck, armpit and into the arm. These nerves are responsible for sending the signals that control movements in the shoulder, elbow, forearm and hand.
Causes of Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries
Brachial plexus injuries can occur during the birthing process when excessive pulling on the head or neck is utilized to help deliver a baby. This birth injury most often occurs during a difficult delivery as a result of a medical condition known as shoulder dystocia. A fetus’ shoulder gets trapped behind the mother’s pubic bone. While there are specific maneuvers that medical professionals are trained in to resolve this birth complication, some doctors may incorrectly perform these procedures or use excessive force in an attempt to deliver the baby causing the brachial plexus nerves to stretch or tear.
Other causes include when a physician pulls on an infant’s feet during a breech delivery putting too much pressure on the raised arms. Also, improper use of vacuum extractors or forceps during a delivery can lead to brachial plexus injuries.
Identifying Risk Factors: Brachial Plexus Injuries Can Be Prevented
Obstetricians, nurses and other labor and delivery medical staff should be aware of the potential risk factors for brachial plexus injuries. Not only do they need to be able to recognize these risk factors but also how to appropriately respond to them in order to prevent a brachial plexus birth injury. Some of the more common factors that increase a child’s risk for a brachial plexus injury include:
- Prolonged or complicated labor
- Shoulder dystocia
- Large fetal size
- Maternal gestational diabetes
- Excessive weight gain
- Maternal obesity
- Breech presentation
When a doctor or other healthcare professional fails to properly identify these risk factors or fails to respond appropriately when a complication presents itself, he or she may be held liable for any injuries that a child sustains as a result of their negligence.
Types of Brachial Plexus Injuries
There are several types of brachial plexus injuries ranging from mild to severe and temporary to permanent. An injury is categorized by the degree of the damage to the nerves. Children with a brachial plexus injury may suffer from limited range of motion, weakened muscles, decreased sensation, disfigurement and paralysis. The types of brachial plexus injuries include:
- Neurapraxia: the brachial plexus nerve is damaged but not torn. These types of injuries are temporary and typically heal themselves within several months.
- Rupture: the nerves are stretched so much that there is partial tearing, but they are not separated at the spinal cord level.
- Neuroma: in some cases when the nerve is partially torn, a ball of scar tissue will form on the nerve as it begins to heal. This puts pressure on the nerve and interferes with the transmission of signals to the muscles.
- Avulsion: the most serious brachial plexus injury. The nerve is completely separated from the spine. The damage is permanent with no chance for recovery.
Brachial Plexus Injury Treatment
Some brachial plexus nerve injuries may heal by themselves with time. Others may require a multitude of treatments. Physical and occupational therapies are crucial and should be initiated as soon as possible. These therapies can help improve strength and function. The goal is to maximize a child’s physical abilities and help them adapt to or overcome any deficits. In some instances, surgery may be recommended as an attempt to help repair nerve damage. Examples include nerve grafting, nerve transfers or reconstruction surgeries. In the most severe cases, the damage is irreversible and a child can suffer permanent paralysis.
The medical expenses, treatments and surgeries that are required during the recovery process can become financially overwhelming. If medical negligence led to your child’s birth injury, you may be eligible to receive compensation for past and future medical costs. It is in yours and your child’s best interest to seek assistance from a skilled medical malpractice lawyer.
The Law Offices of James R. Moyles: Knowledgeable and Skilled Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg Dedicated to Helping Brachial Plexus Injury Victims
If your child has suffered a brachial plexus injury during the labor and delivery process, call the Moyles Law Firm today to determine if our Pittsburgh medical malpractice lawyers can help you bring a malpractice claim against any and all negligent parties. We understand that this type of birth injury can cause significant emotional and financial strains on your family. Let our experienced medical malpractice lawyers assist you in getting the fair and just compensation that your child needs and deserves. Our birth injury lawyers maintain offices in both Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, allowing us to serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Call us today at 412-281-1055 or 717-233-5400 to schedule a free consultation with a compassionate Pittsburgh personal injury lawyer or contact us online.