Running from the spinal cord to the arms, the brachial plexus is a collection of nerve fibers that control the movement of a person’s shoulders, arms, and hands. Unfortunately, the brachial plexus is particularly susceptible to injury—especially during childbirth. Injuries to the brachial plexus often occur when a child’s shoulders are too large for the mother’s pelvis, as width of the upper torso prevents the rest of the body from passing through the birth canal.
While this situation presents a challenge for doctors, it is one for which they should be adequately prepared to handle. There are many effective methods for dislodging a child’s shoulders when they become stuck, almost all of which will leave the brachial plexus free from harm. Unfortunately, some doctors will forgo these maneuvers and simply try to birth the child from by pulling on the baby’s head. When this occurs, risk of injury to the brachial plexus is significantly increased.
As a result of this initial trauma, children suffering from brachial plexus injuries can sustain permanent damage to their shoulders, arms, and hands. This damage can include limited range of motion, muscular weakness, growth impairment, or even paralysis.
As with many other congenital conditions, injuries to the brachial plexus often involve incidents of medical malpractice, as doctors should be able to anticipate and prevent impending complications during the months leading up to delivery. If a mother has an exceptionally small pelvis, has experienced excessive maternal weight gain, or has reason to expect an unusually large child, her doctor should plan to perform a caesarean section in order to mitigate any risk of injury during the birth process. Absent any of these factors, a doctor should still be well equipped to safely delivery a child without causing injury to the brachial plexus.
If your child has been the unfortunate victim of a brachial plexus injury, be sure to contact a personal injury attorney experienced in handling medical malpractice cases. Beyond its physical complications, injuries to the brachial plexus can place an undue financial burden on parents that will only worsen as time goes on. An attorney experienced in handling such cases is in the best position to help you pursue a medical malpractice action that will get the financial help you need.