According to a study, conducted by Boston Children's Hospital, each year as many as four out of every 1,000 births result in the newborn suffering a brachial plexus injury. Babies with this type of injury experience an abnormal appearance and decreased function of their arm. This injury is caused by the nerves running from their neck through their hand being either stretched or severed.
Although not completely predictable, the condition often occurs during standard childbirth. It happens when the baby's shoulder becomes stuck behind the mom's pubic bone. Brachial plexus injuries have been shown to be most common among larger babies, those with siblings who suffer from the same condition and those born to mothers who suffer from diabetes.
Not all patients suffering from a brachial plexus birth palsy will go on to experience lasting effects of the injury. Even without any medical intervention, in some cases, the damage caused will repair on its own. In other cases, physical therapy may be needed to help a child regain normal functioning of his or her arm.
Among the remaining cases, the child may have to undergo nerve repair or transfer surgery. While many will experience significant recovery of function after surgical intervention, some will not. To experience improved function, a patient will have to regularly attend therapy sessions. Even then, they may experience difficulty in keeping their arm aligned with their body when in motion. This can make it difficult for the patient to performing exercises such as pull ups or to pick up things.
It's important to note that a brachial plexus injury can be avoided altogether. When doctors sense that a baby is going to be big and that a mother's pelvis may be too small to accommodate it, they can elect to carry out a Caesaran section instead.
Additionally, doctors can greatly reduce the risk of a baby suffering a brachial plexus injury by practicing some different modalities while the baby is still in the birth canal. One of these involves attempting to gently release the baby's shoulder from behind the bone.
If your child was born with a brachial plexus injury, then you may benefit from discussing your case with a Tucson medical malpractice attorney. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be entitled to recover both past and future medical expenses associated with your child's injuries.
Source: U.S. News, "Growing up with brachial plexus birth palsy," Anna Medaris Miller, accessed Aug. 18, 2017