The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report there are 3,952,841 babies born each year in the United States. Approximately one in every 1,000 of these births result in an injury to a baby’s brachial plexus – a webbed network of five nerves located below the neck and above each shoulder. The brachial plexus controls movement and the sense of touch in the fingers, wrists, arms and shoulders. A brachial plexus injury may be the result of a medical provider’s mistake.
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.
Different than Erb’s Palsy, which affects the upper brachial plexus nerves (specifically C5, C6 and C7), Klumpke’s Palsy results from an injury to the two lowest brachial plexus nerves (C8 to T1), which are responsible for controlling movement of the hand and forearm muscles. Therefore, while Klumpke’s Palsy and Erb’s Palsy can be caused by the same type of medical mistake, they’re still two very different injuries.
Symptoms of Klumpke’s Palsy include:
- Claw hand
- Drop wrist
- Paralysis in the forearm and hand
- Numbness in the forearm and hand
Treatment is limited for this type of hand and forearm injury. Surgery is recommended for damaged nerves that are unable to heal on their own. Additionally, physical therapy will be required. The cost of care for a child with Klumpke’s palsy, or any birth injury, is very high. If your child’s injury was caused by a medical mistake, the experienced Birth Injury lawyers at The Yost Legal Group are here to help.
Call The Yost Legal Group today at 1-800-YOST-LAW (967-8529) for a FREE, confidential, no-obligation consultation. When you call, you will speak with a Baltimore Birth Injury attorney with real experience absolutely free.
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