What is a Brachial Plexus Birth Injury?

New York City Birth Injury Lawyer

The joy of a new baby should never be spoiled by the fear and uncertainty of a birth injury – especially an avoidable one. Has your child suffered a birth injury because of a careless doctor? According to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, 20% of birth injuries sustained by mothers between 2000 and 2006 were avoidable. In 2006, approximately 157,000 avoidable birth injuries were suffered by young mothers and their babies during labor and delivery.

There are many types of birth injuries; brachial plexus injuries are one of the most common types of physical trauma sustained by newborn babies during labor and delivery. If your child has suffered a brachial plexus injury that could have been avoided, you may be entitled to money. Contact a New York City personal injury attorney from Hecht Kleeger & Damashek, P.C., to learn more about medical malpractice and financial compensation.

Understanding the Brachial Plexus

Simply put, the brachial plexus is a network of nerves that controls movement and feeling in the arm, hand, shoulder and neck. The nerves are connected to the spinal cord and run from the neck to the shoulder and down the front of the chest. The nerves in the brachial plexus are both motor and sensory; they carry messages to and from the brain that involve motor skills and sensation in the shoulder and arm. However, these nerves are extremely fragile and can be easily injured. If injured, the nerves are no longer able to carry signals to and from the brain. Thus, brachial plexus injuries often result in decreased sensation and motor function in the hand and shoulder.

How is the brachial plexus injured at birth?

The brachial plexus can be injured during labor and delivery several different ways. For instance, if the child’s shoulder becomes lodged against the cartilage connecting the left and right pelvic bones, it may suffer a brachial plexus injury. The injury commonly occurs when a doctor pulls down on the baby’s head to dislodge the shoulder from the cartilage. Unnecessary downward traction can easily strain the nerves in the brachial plexus and cause an injury. Additionally, the use of a vacuum extractor or forceps may cause an injury as well.

Although doctors and nurses are told that they should never use excessive force or downward traction to dislodge the baby’s shoulder, it is common medical practice. Many times, this practice goes unnoticed because it does not cause significant injury to the baby. If your child has suffered a brachial plexus injury because a doctor or nurse pulled too hard during the delivery of your child, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Call our firm today to see what a New York City birth injury lawyer from Hecht Kleeger & Damashek, P.C., can do for your case.

Common Brachial Plexus Injury Risk Factors

There are several factors that can heighten your child’s risk of sustaining a brachial plexus injury during labor and delivery. The term “macrosomia” refers to an unusually large birth weight and fetal size. Larger babies are more likely to sustain birth injuries, so doctors should be especially careful while delivering a large baby. Additionally, the shape and size of the mother’s pelvis may contribute to the likelihood of a birth injury as well. Mothers with a small pelvic areas are more likely to deliver a child with a brachial plexus injury.

Additionally, babies with shorter mothers are more likely to sustain a shoulder or brachial plexus injury during birth. Excessive weight gain by the mother may increase the child’s chances of sustaining a brachial plexus injury as well. Although these factors contribute to brachial plexus injuries, they do not excuse careless and negligent doctors from making avoidable mistakes. Call Hecht Kleeger & Damashek, P.C., today to learn more about your rights during a medical malpractice birth injury case. A New York City birth injury attorney from our firm can help you understand your legal circumstances, rights and options.

Forceps and Vacuum Extractors

The use of forceps or a vacuum extractor can significantly increase your child’s chances of sustaining a brachial plexus injury. To avoid unnecessary injuries, discuss your medical options with a doctor before labor and delivery. Generally speaking, C-Sections, vacuum extractors and forceps are only used when during emergency deliveries. For instance, if the child’s shoulder becomes stuck in the birth canal, a vacuum extractor may be used to safely delivery the child. Discuss these options with your doctor before an emergency actually occurs.

If the mother’s pelvis is usually shaped, forceps and vacuum extractors may not shift the baby’s shoulders to leave the birth canal safely. Depending on the shape of the mother’s pelvis, the child may need to be shifted or rotated to safely leave the birth canal. However, vacuum extractors and forceps may interfere with the natural positioning of the baby. Instead, these instruments may force the baby from the birth canal straight down. If the child’s shoulders are not able to rotate, they may become stuck and damaged during delivery.

Types of Brachial Plexus Injuries

The nerves in the brachial plexus can be damaged in one of three ways: stretch, rupture or avulsion. Stretch injuries – the mildest type of brachial plexus injury – occur when the nerve fibers are shocked but not permanently damaged. The nerves in the brachial plexus are like the branches of a tree – there are three primary trunks that branch off into thinner nerves. When the trunks of the brachial plexus stretch, the child may suffer a condition called neurapraxia.

This is short-term injury identifiable by decreased sensation or muscle movement. Although these injuries should not be taken lightly, they do not usually result in permanent damaged and may heal within several months without medical attention. As the nerves in the brachial plexus become less swollen and irritated, movement and sensation will return.

Rupture injuries occur when the nerve fibers stretch and break. Partial rupture injuries occur when the nerve fibers break but the nerve sheath remains unbroken. Complete rupture injuries occur when the nerves break and not connecting tissue remains between the halves. Partial rupture injuries may attempt to heal, but usually develop scar tissue.

Complete ruptures may attempt to heal but will probably result in condition called neuroma. Neuroma occurs when the scar tissue attempts to reestablish communication with the damaged nerve. This type of injury cannot heal without medical attention and may require surgery to repair. Many times, complete recovery is impossible. However, surgical procedures may be able to repair some sensation and movement in the damaged limb.

Let Our NYC Birth Injury Attorneys Help You

If your child has suffered an avoidable brachial plexus injury, the New York City birth injury attorneys from Hecht Kleeger & Damashek, P.C., want to hear from you. At the firm, we believe that careless and negligent medical professionals should be held responsible for their actions – your child should never suffer because a doctor failed in his duty to protect your well-being and the health of your child. As New York City injury attorneys, we are passionate about helping people and giving our clients the best legal representation we can offer. Our attorneys have accumulated more than 75 years of legal experience – let us put it to work for you.

If you suspect that your child’s brachial plexus injury was caused by doctoral negligence, you need a birth injury lawyer in New York City. During an injury claim, you must be able to demonstrate that another individual was negligent and that their actions resulted in your child’s injury. A New York City personal lawyer from our firm can help you establish liability in your birth injury case so that you can get the financial compensation you need and deserve. Contact us today to see what the legal team at Hecht Kleeger & Damashek, P.C., can do for your family.