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What can cause a brachial plexus injury?

This is Brachial Plexus Awareness week, according to the United Brachial Plexus Network. The brachial plexus is a set of nerves that run from a person’s neck to the fingers. These nerves may be injured in a number of ways. Adults can suffer a brachial plexus injury in a car or motorcycle accident, during surgery or in a variety of ways where trauma to the arm is present. Brachial plexus injuries can also occur to a child during delivery.

A birth injury of this type may have different monikers, according to the Brachial Lexus Palsy Foundation. Terms may include an obstetric brachial plexus injury, Erb’s Palsy, Klumpke’s Palsy, and a variety of other terms. The injury (in adults or children) can come in a variety of forms and levels of severity.

We have discussed Erb’s Palsy previously for our Massachusetts readers. Organizations that are focused on these types of injuries say that trauma during childbirth can cause a brachial plexus injury. A baby’s shoulder can become wedged under the mother’s pelvic bone during delivery. Trauma can occur to the baby from excessive pulling or suction during child birth.

While we have discussed the issue previously, a recent story from the central part of the country highlights the difficulties a child can face after suffering this kind of nerve injury during child birth. The child’s mother says that about 14 months ago complications arose during child birth. The baby became stuck under the mother’s pelvic bone. But, the child’s mother notes that the umbilical cord had also wrapped around the child’s arm and head.

The mother believes that the doctor acted properly under the circumstances in pulling hard on the child’s arm. But the traction involved resulted in injuries to the child’s nerves. Doctor’s confirmed the child suffered from Erb’s Palsy by the time she was 6-weeks-old. That is when the therapy began.

When the child was 8-months-old, treatment for the condition included a trip to another state for nerve graft therapy. That treatment involves surgery on the young child. The girl, now 14-months-old, still does not have full use of her arm. Future treatment may be likely.

The costs of treating a severe brachial plexus injury can be enormous. Generally, if birth trauma is due to negligence on the part of medical professionals, the family of a harmed child may be able to seek justice for the medical mistake.

Source: Fox 23, “Owasso mother raising awareness after child's birth injury," Michelle Linn, Sept. 23, 2013

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