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Brachial Plexus Injury (BPI) is Linked to Limited Arm and Hand Functions in Newborns

January 3rd, 2017

Adding a new member to the family is supposed to be one of the happiest times in a family’s life. But due to medical mistakes this is not the reality every family gets to enjoy. After child birth, parents and physicians may notice that one of the child’s arms appears limp or there is little to no movement of an arm or hand. This damage to the arm is called a brachial plexus injury (BPI).

The brachial plexus is a group of nerves, located in the shoulder region, connecting the arm to the spinal cord.  These nerves allow a person to move and feel their arms, hands and fingers. The most severe type of brachial plexus injury is a full avulsion. A full avulsion occurs when one or more of the nerves in the brachial plexus is not just stretched or partially torn, but completely severed from the cervical nerve root and disconnected from the spinal cord. Extensive surgery may have to be performed to repair brachial plexus injury, including nerve graft, nerve transfer, tendon transfer and/or muscle transfer surgeries.   Sometimes a full avulsion can even be permanent, causing the affected arm to be paralyzed. Despite extensive medical knowledge and training, brachial plexus injuries are still one of the most common birthing injuries.

Brachial plexus injuries may be caused by a medical provider during delivery of the baby. If the baby weighs too much (macrosomia) or has shoulders too wide for the birth canal (feto-pelvic disproportion), the baby’s shoulder can get caught (shoulder dystocia) on the mother’s pelvic bone during vaginal birth. When this happens, the baby’s head presents but the baby’s body does not descend through the birth canal.  Shoulder dystocia is an obstetrical emergency that requires immediate, safe and appropriate procedures to gently free the baby’s shoulders and deliver the baby.  If the doctors, nurses or other medical providers apply too much pressure (e.g., fundal pressure or lateral pressure) and/or pulling (traction) to the baby’s head, neck, arm and shoulders during delivery, the baby can suffer a brachial plexus injury such as stretching, tearing, rupture or avulsion of one or more of the five nerves which form the brachial plexus.

Signs of a brachial plexus injury include:

  • Limp arm and hand at birth
  • Arm weakness or paralysis
  • Protruding shoulder blade (winged scapula)
  • Separated shoulder (glenohumeral joint subluxation)
  • Arm muscle atrophy
  • Withered arm

Too often, medical providers do not take the proper precautions to ensure infant safety during delivery. If this happened to you or your child you may have a legal claim. A brachial plexus injury can cause a lifetime of physical and financial struggle for the child and family.

Our experienced attorneys fight for individuals who have been negatively impacted by the negligence of others. If you would like to discuss your child’s potential claim arising from a brachial plexus injury, the attorneys at The Yost Legal Group are experienced professionals ready to investigate your claim with compassion and determination.  For a free consultation, please call us at 1-800-YOST-LAW. (1-800-967-8529)

The Yost Legal Group – Experienced Attorneys Dedicated to Protecting Your Rights