For some parents, the excitement of welcoming a new baby can be dampened by the occurrence of a birth injury. One of the most common ones that can occur is called a brachial plexus injury. This injury occurs when there's a tear or stretch to the nerves that cover the spine, collarbone, arm and shoulder area. If you're expecting, you should understand the nature of this injury as well as the signs that you should watch for. Recognizing the injury right away is important to timely treatment and pursuing a birth injury case.
What Causes A Brachial Plexus Birth Injury?
This type of birth injury is typically caused when the baby's head is pushed too far away from the shoulder in an attempt to facilitate delivery. It often occurs as a result of a breech birth or a long and difficult labor.
Sometimes, the delivering doctor will push this way in an attempt to dislodge the baby's shoulder from behind the pelvic bone if it is stuck during delivery. When the shoulders get stuck like this, the doctor often has nothing more than the baby's head for leverage to move the shoulders, and the pressure applied to do this can often stretch or tear those nerves. In the case of a severe injury, the nerves can be separated from the spine.
How Can You Recognize A Brachial Plexus Injury?
The signs aren't always easy to spot, especially for new parents. In the case of a mild injury, you may notice some moderate weakness in one arm or the baby may have limited movement in one arm and hand. In severe cases, the baby won't be able to use the arm at all or may not have any feeling in it. If the baby persistently fails to respond to touch on that arm, that's a key indication that there's no feeling in it.
What Kind Of Treatment Is There?
In mild cases, the pediatrician may not suggest any treatment, because mild injuries will typically heal on their own. You'll just have to make sure that you keep up with follow-up appointments to monitor healing.
Physical therapy is often recommended even for these mild cases, though. It helps to restore the range of movement in the arm while the nerves are healing. In severe cases, there may be need for surgery to help repair the damaged nerve tissue.
If your baby experiences a brachial plexus injury during birth, you'll want to reach out to a birth injury lawyer who can help you navigate the legal process. For more information, visit http://www.snyderwenner.com or a similar website.