Was your child born with a lack of muscle tone and control in one of his or her arms? Was your child diagnosed with a brachial plexus injury? This type of injury affects the brachial plexus, a bundle of nerves extending from the base of the neck through the shoulder and armpit, down into the arm, wrist, and fingers. If these nerves are damaged in any way, this can affect muscle function in the affected shoulder, arm, and/or hand.
An immediate investigation is important after a brachial plexus injury. This birth injury can result from mismanaged shoulder dystocia or other forms of negligence during or after childbirth. The doctor, nurse, or other party responsible for your child’s injuries can be held accountable for medical bills, including ongoing medical care, but you will need to take legal action. Our Kansas City brachial plexus injury attorneys are standing by to see how we can help.
As medical doctors and lawyers, we at Cullan & Cullan are uniquely qualified to handle complex birth injury claims. Call (816) 253-8606 now for a free consultation.
What Causes Brachial Plexus Injuries?
Brachial plexus injuries are caused by a stretching, tearing, or avulsion (detachment) of the brachial plexus nerves. With good medicine they are predictable and avoidable. We must take greater steps to prevent these injuries from happening to our children.
Some potential malpractice-related causes of brachial plexus injuries may include:
- Mismanagement of shoulder dystocia (which occurs when the infant’s shoulder becomes lodged behind the mother’s pubic bone).
- Failure to identify an infant that is too large for a safe vaginal delivery.
- Failure to identify a mother whose pelvis is too small for her baby to safely pass through.
- Improper use of forceps or vacuum extractor in an assisted delivery.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Doctors use several methods for diagnosing brachial plexus injuries. These tests monitor muscle and nerve function, as well as arm function and severity of injury.
Some tests used to diagnose brachial plexus include:
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): Creates several detailed images of the body in various planes; can be used to show extent/severity of brachial plexus, as well as arterial damage.
- EMG (electromyography): Needle electrodes are inserted into the muscles; used to monitor electrical activity of various muscles.
- CT (computerized tomography) myelography: Cross-sectional images of the body, particularly the spinal cord and nerve roots, are generated with multiple X-rays
- Nerve conduction tests: Provides information about nerve function by passing a small current through the nerve and monitoring the speed of conduction; often used alongside an EMG
Treatments for brachial plexus injuries vary based on several factors, including the severity of the injury. Treatment can also be dependent on how the injury has affected certain muscles and nerve groupings, as well as how old the injury is. Physical therapy is a common treatment, especially in instances when nerves are simply stretched. Surgery may be required to repair damaged nerves. These should typically be conducted no later than six or seven months after the injury occurred. Lastly, pain management is a major part of brachial plexus injury treatment. Individuals with this type of injury often experience some degree of chronic pain, often debilitating in nature. Medication and surgeries might be prescribed to help with brachial plexus injury pain.
For more information, call a Kansas City brachial plexus injury lawyer at (816) 253-8606. We look forward to seeing how we can assist you.