New York Brachial Plexus Injury Lawyers
Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries Caused by Medical Malpractice
The brachial plexus nerves are a bundle of nerves that control movement in the shoulder, arm, and hand. During childbirth, the brachial plexus nerves can be damaged due to excessive force or twisting of the infant’s head or neck by medical providers who are attempting to deliver the baby. When this happens, the child can suffer a range of related complications, ranging from temporary physical impairment to lasting disability.
If your child suffered a brachial plexus injury due to a preventable medical error, you likely have a birth injury claim. Our New York brachial plexus injury attorneys can review your case and help you fully understand your legal rights and options. At Salenger, Sack, Kimmel & Bavaro, LLP, we believe in standing up for children, parents, and families affected by medical malpractice, and our aggressive approach to litigation has helped us recover more than $1 billion in compensation for our clients.
If your child suffered a brachial plexus injury after a difficult labor or delivery, call Salenger, Sack, Kimmel & Bavaro, LLP at (800) 572-7246 for a free consultation with our birth injury lawyers.
Types of Brachial Plexus Injuries
Brachial plexus injuries range from mild to severe, with various symptoms and effects related to the overall severity of the injury.
In infants and children, some of the most common types of brachial plexus injuries include:
- Avulsion: Avulsion refers to the complete tearing away of the nerve from the spinal cord. This is the most severe type of brachial plexus injury and may lead to various complications, including Horner’s syndrome, which is frequently associated with a drooping eyelid on one side.
- Rupture: When the brachial plexus nerves rupture, it means that they have torn but have not completely separated from the spinal cord. This is generally considered a moderate to severe type of brachial plexus injury and may result in numerous complications.
- Neurapraxia: Neurapraxia occurs when the brachial plexus nerve is stretched but not torn. Although this is generally considered to be a milder to moderate type of brachial plexus injury, it can still result in significant effects in infants and children.
- Neuroma: Neuroma occurs when scar tissue from an injury forms over and around the site of the injury. This often results in excessive pressure on the nerve and may weaken or cut off signals from the nerve to the muscles, resulting in mobility issues and poor reflexes.
Additionally, some of the most common conditions associated with brachial plexus injuries include:
- Erb’s Palsy: Erb’s palsy is characterized by weakness in one shoulder and arm. Often, the arm is held straight with the wrist bent. Someone with Erb’s palsy may retain hand movement but may struggle with arm and/or shoulder mobility.
- Horner’s Syndrome: Horner’s syndrome results from severe brachial plexus injury (often associated with avulsion). It is characterized by drooping of the eyelid, as well as pupil constriction in the affected eye.
- Global Palsy: Global palsy occurs when all five brachial plexus nerves are involved (hence, “global”). Global palsy is typically characterized by complete paralysis of the shoulder, arm, and hand on the affected side, as well as limited or no sensation.
While some brachial plexus injuries are treatable, and some may even heal completely or almost completely, others have severe, lifelong effects. Often, the cost of treating or accommodating a brachial plexus injury can be immense; parents and families should not have to simply shoulder these burdens on their own when a child’s injury was the result of medical malpractice or negligence.
Symptoms of Brachial Plexus Injuries
The signs and symptoms of a brachial plexus injury vary, depending on the severity of the injury and the type of injury that has occurred.
That being said, some of the most common symptoms of brachial plexus injuries in newborns include:
- Weakness in one shoulder, arm, wrist, or hand
- Partial or total lack of movement on one side
- Weak or poor grip in one hand
- Holding the arm or hand in an abnormal position
- Holding one arm or hand curled up or to the side of the body
- Rigidity and increased sensitivity in one side
- Excessive crying, indicative of pain
If you notice any signs of a brachial plexus injury in your child, seek immediate medical attention. Depending on the severity of the injury, surgery may be required, such as nerve grafting, as well as other medical treatments, including physical therapy and pain management.
Common Causes of Brachial Plexus Injuries
In infants, brachial plexus injuries are often the result of birth injuries occurring during labor or delivery. This often occurs when one or more risk factors are present.
Some of the risk factors for brachial plexus injuries include:
- The infant’s shoulder is trapped behind the mother’s pelvis (shoulder dystocia)
- Breech presentation (the infant’s head is pointed up instead of down)
- Infants with large gestational size
- Maternal diabetes and other maternal complications
- Prolonged labor
Note that more than 50 percent of brachial plexus injuries occur without any known risk factors. These injuries often occur in newborns due to improper practices by medical professionals. For example, a doctor may twist or pull a baby’s head or neck when attempting to aid in the infant’s delivery. This is especially true when there are complications, such as shoulder dystocia.
Filing a Brachial Plexus Injury Claim
If you believe that a medical provider acted negligently or failed to uphold the standard of accepted care in the given situation, leading to your child’s injury, you could have grounds for a birth injury claim. These are highly complex cases and nearly always require the assistance of a skilled legal team.
At Salenger, Sack, Kimmel & Bavaro, LLP, our New York brachial plexus injury attorneys work alongside medical experts and other professionals who help provide powerful, evidence-based testimony on behalf of our clients. We know how to thoroughly investigate these claims to uncover evidence of medical malpractice and negligence—and we have what it takes to aggressively pursue the maximum compensation you and your family are owed. While there is no undoing a birth injury, a fair settlement or verdict can provide you with the monetary resources you need to get your child the best possible medical care so that he or she can live as normal a life as possible.