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What Is the Brachial Plexus?| Mandell, Boisclair and Mandell, Ltd
August 23, 2021

What Is a Brachial Plexus Injury?

The brachial plexus is the network of nerves between the shoulders and neck that greatly control muscle function in the shoulders, arms, hands, and chest. The brachial plexus also controls sensation in the upper extremities.

Brachial plexus birth injuries occur when the nerves of the brachial plexus are torn, compressed, or stretched during delivery. These injuries can result in muscle function loss or paralysis of the upper arms and a lifetime of specialized care.

The experienced birth injury attorneys at Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd. have extensive knowledge in handling these complex cases. We know how difficult a birth injury can be on babies and their families and we fight diligently on behalf of our clients for the justice and compensation they deserve.

What Causes a Brachial Plexus Birth Injury?

A brachial plexus injury can happen any time the nerves of the brachial plexus are stretched, ruptured, or torn in a way that causes injury. Stretched injuries are the most common type of brachial plexus injury. These injuries occur outside of the spinal cord and are caused by the brachial plexus nerves being stretched too far during a difficult birth. 

Sometimes, physicians and other medical professionals fail to deliver babies properly. This can lead to difficult deliveries and lifelong injuries. If doctors fail to provide the acceptable standard of care during labor and delivery, and a child subsequently suffers harm, the family may be able to seek compensation in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Brachial plexus injuries can occur in several ways.  One of the most common ways includes a doctor pulling a baby’s neck or head in a way that damages the brachial plexus.  Excessive force during birth can result in a brachial plexus injury.

The risk of brachial plexus palsy increases when a baby’s shoulders become wedged within the birth canal. In some cases, the upper nerves are damaged, in a condition known as Erb’s palsy.

What Are the Symptoms of a Brachial Plexus Injury?

Brachial plexus palsy, Erb’s palsy, and Klumpke’s palsy can be identified by symptoms such as:

  • Paralysis of the hands, arms, or shoulders
  • Loss of sensation in the hands, arms, or shoulders
  • Reduced muscle control in the hands, arms, or shoulders
  • Reduced strength in the hands or arms
  • Reduced fine motor coordination
  • Stunted growth of the hands or arms
  • A misaligned shoulder blade

The birth injury attorneys at Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd. are skilled in these complex cases. We have the knowledge, experience, and resources necessary to investigate the cause of your child’s injury and determine if medical negligence may have played a role. We are committed to protecting the rights of our clients and helping them seek the maximum compensation they need to move forward.

Are Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries Permanent?

If the nerves in the brachial plexus are damaged during birth, a baby can experience pain and lose function and sensation. While some injuries can be brief and minor, others can be severe and lead to permanent disability. 

Treatment for a brachial plexus injury depends on a number of factors, including the type of injury, the severity of the injury, and other existing conditions. While some stretched nerves may eventually recover on their own without further treatment, other injuries require physical therapy to prevent stiffness, maintain range of motion, and keep joints and muscles working. In some cases, surgery is necessary. Surgeries that occur later on after the initial injury have lower success rates than surgeries that are conducted sooner.

During recovery, splints may be used to prevent the child’s hand from curling inward, and exercises may be necessary to keep joints flexible. Because nerve tissue grows so slowly, it can take years to know the full benefit of surgery.

Contact a Birth Injury Lawyer in Providence Today

At Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd, our accomplished birth injury lawyers understand the physical, emotional, and financial devastation faced by injured babies and their families. We are passionate about helping families recover the full and fair compensation they deserve for their losses – both now and in the future.

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If your baby was harmed during pregnancy or childbirth, contact Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd. today online or at (401) 273-8330 to discuss your case for free with an experienced birth injury lawyer. We serve families in Providence and other areas throughout Rhode Island.