WVA Brachial Plexus

Brachial Plexus Injury Can Have Lifelong Effects on Your Child’s Life

West Virginia birth injury lawyers protect children when brachial plexus birth injuries cause Erb’s or Klumpke’s Palsy

A brachial plexus is one of the pair of nerve networks that carry impulses from the brain, via the spine, to the right and left shoulders, arms, and hands. Each plexus is located at the base of the neck, between the collarbone and armpit; its branches extend down the arm, and through the elbow, forearm, and hand. Injury to either network during childbirth by stretching, tearing, or compression can leave a newborn’s entire arm paralyzed, without function or sensation.

At Paulson & Nace, PLLC, our family of West Virginia birth injury lawyers helps families like yours deal with the emotional and financial aftermath of serious birth injuries. For the last four decades, we have fought for families throughout West Virginia, securing compensation for their injured children, both in court verdicts and settlement negotiations.

The causes and consequences of brachial plexus injuries

Shoulder dystocia is a frequent cause of brachial plexus injuries. This obstetrical emergency occurs when a baby’s shoulder becomes wedged behind the mother’s pubic bone after the head has come through the birth canal. Improper response by the doctor, such as excessive pulling on the baby's shoulders or careless use of obstetrical forceps, can cause the brachial nerves to stretch, tear, or separate from the spinal column.

The National Institutes of Health recognizes four categories of brachial plexus injury:

  • Neuropraxia. The most common type, in which the plexus has been stretched but not torn.
  • Rupture. Where there is tearing, but the nerves remain attached to the spinal column.
  • Neuroma. Where one of the brachial plexus nerves tears and heals itself, but scar tissue presses on the other nerves, limiting control or mobility in the shoulder, arm, wrist or hand.
  • Avulsion. The most severe type, in which a nerve root has been torn from the spinal column.

Children with neuropraxia may need only physical therapy to regain use of a limb. Children with neuroma or rupture injuries, however, most often need surgery to repair the damage. If surgery is not performed in time, or is unsuccessful, the result can be permanent paralysis of the arm. In avulsion cases, full recovery may be impossible.

Complications: Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy

Conditions arising due to brachial plexus damage depend on the portion of the brachial plexus where the birth injury occurred.

  • Erb’s Palsy. Also known as Erb–Duchenne palsy, this paralysis or weakness of the arm muscles is caused by damage to the upper portion of the brachial plexus. Damage to this area can affect any or all of the muscles that control the shoulder, arm, or hand. It is most commonly caused by negligent, excessive pulling or stretching of the fetal head and neck in the event of shoulder dystocia during delivery.
  • Klumpke’s palsy. This paralysis results from injury to the lower part of the brachial plexus, and affects muscles of the forearm, wrist, and hand. Like Erb’s palsy, it is most commonly caused by excessive pulling or stretching of the fetal head and neck during delivery.

Brachial plexus injuries can affect a child and his or her family for a lifetime. Victims of these birth injuries may require multiple surgical or therapeutic treatments. They may experience pain and suffering in the process, only to find that the best outcome they can expect will still leave their arm with partial or complete loss of function.

Support for West Virginia families whose children suffer from brachial plexus injuries

Paulson & Nace, PLLC, our family-owned and managed law firm, is recognized throughout West Virginia for our compassionate care and comprehensive legal services to victims of brachial plexus injuries and their families. As members of a family, we understand the terrible impact brachial impact injuries can have on children: psychological and physical pain, as well as physical limitations that make it impossible to engage in most sports or play most musical instruments.

When you choose a birth injury lawyer from our practice to represent you, you are choosing a team that values family. Please call 304-741-8079 or fill out our contact form to tell us your story in a no-obligation consultation. Our office is located at 3501 Maccorkle Ave SE, WV Charleston 25304.

We have dedicated our lives to helping medical malpractice victims. Let our family help yours.