/ Blog/ Newborn Brachial Plexus Injury
Holding your newborn child in your arms is among the most miraculously happy moments in a parent’s life. All the months of reading, shopping, weird food cravings and preparing for the baby’s arrival are finally behind you and you’re awash with joy.
For most new parents, the joy is backed by worry—and sometimes fear. Usually such fears are unfounded, but occasionally something goes wrong during the birth, injuring the baby. Sometimes, usually in the case of a prolonged or difficult vaginal birth, a newborn can suffer damage to the brachial plexus nerves—the nerves around the shoulder.
Brachial plexus injury is one of the most common types of birth injuries, affecting thousands of infants each year. While most patients recover fully, treatment in some cases can be expensive—particularly if surgery becomes necessary.
Some insurance plans may not cover physical therapy, which can leave families on the hook for unexpected medical expenses. Coupled with the expenses of birth, prenatal and post-partum care, the affected newborn’s additional medical expenses can quickly swallow up a family’s savings.
Symptoms of Brachial Plexus Injury in Newborns
Brachial plexus injury is also known as Erb’s palsy, although Erb’s palsy more accurately refers to the symptoms that stem from damage to the brachial nerves. They usually present immediately or shortly after birth. Symptoms can include:
In mild cases, symptoms can resolve without treatment. Usually, infants will require some form of physical therapy to make a full recovery.
Causes of Infant Brachial Plexus Injury
Risk factors for a newborn brachial plexus injury include:
While a cesarean birth carries less risk of this type of birth injury, it does not prevent it—and carries its own set of risks for both mother and infant.
These risk factors often result in the following conditions, which can cause injury to the brachial plexus nerves:
Treatment for Newborns with Brachial Plexus Injuries
Prognosis for this type of birth injury is generally good. Most newborns recover fully by six months of age, provided the condition is diagnosed and treated promptly. Delays in diagnosis or treatment of the nerve injury can result in a less than complete recovery, so it’s important to address symptoms of Erb’s palsy as soon as they present.
In mild cases, physical therapy involving daily massage and exercises will repair the damaged nerve tissue. In more severe cases of brachial plexus injury, doctors may recommend surgery to repair the damage. Nerve grafts or other procedures can restore full or partial use of the affected limb. After surgery, doctors may prescribe a course of physical therapy to complete the recovery process.
Legal Action for Infant Brachial Plexus Injury
Some injuries are unavoidable. Other times, improper methods and procedures can lead to Erb’s palsy or other types of birth injury. Recovery from a brachial plexus injury may sometimes be unpredictable. If you’re facing a difficult diagnosis and course of treatment, there may be help available for you and your family.
If you think it’s possible a medical professional’s negligence led to your baby’s birth injury, contact the Indianapolis birth injury lawyers of Wilson Kehoe Winingham today to schedule a free case evaluation. 317.920.6400 | 800.525.8028
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