Brachial Plexus Injury

New York City Attorneys for Brachial Plexus Injuries

In New York City, brachial plexus injury in childbirth often results in a New York City malpractice suit, because such childbirth injuries are often preventable.  When the actions or inactions of a physician or other hospital employee during childbirth cause an injury to a baby being born, the courts often hold these professionals liable and award damages to the injured infant's parents, on behalf of your injured child.

Understanding the brachial plexus

The brachial plexus is like the central nervous system of the arm—a root bundle of nerves in the shoulder region of the arm that empowers movement and sensation in the arm, hand, and fingers.  The brachial plexus is comprised of the radial, ulnar, and median nerve bundles, which start in the spine, travel together through the brachial plexus, and then branch out to various parts of the arm, controlling all sensory and motor function.

A brachial plexus injury

The Mayo Clinic describes a brachial plexus injury as " injury to the network of nerves that sends signals from your spine to your shoulder, arm and hand."  An injury to the brachial plexus can damage the body's ability to sense pressure and temperature and to perform the muscle motor function.

Since the nerves of the brachial plexus control all motor and sensory function to the fingers, hand, wrist, forearm, and upper arm, a brachial plexus injury can have catastrophic and permanent impact to that arm rendering it useless.  In more severe brachial plexus injuries, the nerves are torn or ruptured. In the most severe cases, the nerve root is torn from the spinal cord.

New York City brachial plexus palsy in childbirth

Brachial plexus palsy—arm paralysis due to an injury to the brachial plexus—sometimes occurs during childbirth.  In a difficult or improperly performed delivery, the newborn child may sustain a brachial plexus injury.  Circumstances that sometimes lead to newborn brachial plexus injuries include:

  • Shoulder dystocia
  • High infant birth weight
  • Failure to perform Cesarean section delivery
  • Breech birth
  • Prolonged labor
  • Induced labor
  • Epidural analgesia
  • A vertex delivery

The use of force to pull the baby out of the birth canal when shoulders are stuck can damage the brachial plexus if the infant's shoulders are wedged in the birth canal.  This often results in injury to the upper arm, causing Erbs palsy.  When both the upper and lower nerves are damaged, the result is called total brachial plexus birth palsy.

Statistics on brachial plexus injury—sadly, you are not alone

From our years of experience in medical malpractice law, we know that at-fault birth injuries are more common than anyone would like to think—common enough that we have made birth injuries a dedicated area of our legal practice. Here are some statistics:

  • According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:
    • One in 1,000 babies experiences Erbs palsy in childbirth
    • Five to ten percent of infants suffering a brachial plexus injury in birth experience permanent functional disability
  • The University of Pittsburgh describes brachial plexus injuries as one of the most common injuries during the birthing process, affecting as much as one of every 500 births
  • A six-year study performed by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Central Hospital in Sweden involving more than 100,000 birth deliveries showed that shoulder dystocia in childbirth resulted in brachial plexus injury 32 percent of the time

New York City malpractice suit

Are you unsure if you have a medical malpractice claim against a doctor or hospital for birth injuries?  Please contact Rich & Rich, P.C. for a free consultation with a compassionate and dedicated New York city malpractice attorney.  You may be eligible for a malpractice suit if your newborn is showing signs of a brachial plexus injury, which include:

  • Limp and useless arm and hand
  • Arm pain
  • Numbness
  • Lack of response to heat/cold
  • Lack of touch sensation
  • External damage or fracture from instrumental delivery

Diagnosing brachial plexus injuries in newborns is challenging  but can be performed in clinical evaluation by a skilled pediatrician.  If you or your pediatrician suspects your child has experienced brachial plexus damage, talk with a birth injury attorney in New York City.  The medical malpractice law firm of Rich & Rich focuses a portion of their practice on birth injuries.  If your infant has experienced a New York City brachial plexus injury and needs an experienced medical malpractice attorney, contact the Rich & Rich, P.C. today.

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