The labor and delivery process can be hard on both mom and baby. In Oregon and elsewhere, birth injuries are common, but most injuries are minor and heal quickly. That said, some birth injuries can have long-term effects, such as a brachial plexus injury. Damage to the brachial plexus is known to cause temporary or, in some cases, permanent paralysis.
What is the brachial plexus?
The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves between the shoulder and neck. Its job is to provide feeling and movement to the hand, arm and shoulder. During delivery, damage to the brachial plexus can occur if the infant’s head or shoulder becomes stuck in the birth canal, if the baby struggles to descend, or if the baby is pulled out with too much force, among other things. Any of these complications can cause the nerves to be stretched too far or tear. According to current statistics, roughly 1.5 in 1,000 children suffer brachial plexus injuries during the delivery process.
Symptoms and treatment
Symptoms of a brachial plexus injury vary in severity depending on the damage done. In infants, symptoms may not be immediately apparent. Common signs of such an injury include:
- Loss of or decreased feeling in upper extremity
- Loss of or decreased movement
Once a brachial plexus injury is identified and its severity determined, treatment can begin. Treatment for this type of injury may include rehabilitation and, in worse-case scenarios, surgery. Every case is different.
Who’s responsible when this type of injury occurs?
Medical providers may be responsible if their actions, or inaction, contributed to the injury. If a delivery assist device was used improperly, if actions to help mother and baby were not taken in a timely manner and/or if various risk factors were not taken into consideration before labor began, these are just a few examples of when a medical provider may be liable when a brachial plexus injury occurs. Oregon residents who believe their children suffered brachial plexus injuries during the delivery process due to medical negligence may be entitled to seek compensation for their losses. An experienced attorney can investigate one’s claims and help one pursue relief through legal means, if appropriate.