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IL birth injury lawyerA baby’s birth should be one of the happiest days of a parent’s life. Unfortunately, some parents’ happiness is mired by anxiety and fear due to a serious birth injury. Brachial plexus injuries are fairly common in newborns, but the consequences of these injuries can have lifelong ramifications. If a doctor’s failure to meet the medical standard of care results in a baby suffering a brachial plexus injury, the baby’s parents may be entitled to compensation for the damages they have suffered.

How Does a Brachial Plexus Injury Occur?

Brachial plexus nerves connect the spinal cord to the shoulders, arms, and hands. When these nerves are damaged, the body’s ability to control arm and hand movement is decreased. Brachial plexus injuries are often caused when a condition called shoulder dystocia occurs during delivery. Shoulder dystocia refers to a situation in which the baby’s shoulders become stuck in the birth canal. This can put intense pressure on the baby’s neck and shoulder area. Brachial plexus nerves can become stretched or even torn. The use of tools such as vacuum extractors and forceps may increase the risk of a brachial plexus injury.

The medical consequences of a brachial plexus injury vary depending on the severity of damage to the nerves and the location of the injury. Nerves that are slightly stretched may only result in short-term symptoms. If the nerves are severed or torn away from the spinal cord, however, the baby may experience paralysis that lasts for the rest of his or her life. Damage to the brachial plexus nerves may also result in a condition called Erb’s Palsy. A baby suffering from Erb’s Palsy may experience weakness, loss of feeling, and partial or total paralysis of the shoulders or arms. He or she has one arm that is noticeably smaller than the other during childhood. Physical therapy is the most common treatment for brachial plexus injuries. However, some sufferers may require surgery such as a nerve transfer or nerve graft to correct the mitigate the damage.

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