Imagine having to take your baby through surgery to correct a serious injury that can affect their arms. Imagine losing the feeling in your arm after suffering from a motorcycle accident. This is the reality for victims of a brachial plexus injury. These injuries can leave a person’s arms paralyzed. The consequences are even more severe for babies who have endured this type of injury. Learn more about what a brachial plexus injury is and how it can affect you or your loved one.
What is a brachial plexus injury?
The brachial plexus is the bundle of nerves that transfers signals from the spinal cord to the arm, hand, and shoulder. Brachial plexus injuries happen when the bundle of nerves is compressed, stretched, or torn.
The symptoms of brachial plexus injuries can vary based on the damage. If the damage is minor, victims can experience a feeling that’s reminiscent of an electric shock. Some victims can also experience what feels like a burning sensation down the arm, hand, or shoulder area.
When the damage is more severe, victims can experience weakness or an inability to use specific muscles in their arm, shoulder, or hand. Victims can experience a complete lack of movement and feeling in those areas as well. How long the symptoms last can vary as well. Victims can experience symptoms from a few minutes to a few days or longer.
Common causes of brachial plexus injuries
One of the most common causes of these injuries is birth traumas. Birth injuries can happen to the mother, baby, or both throughout the pregnancy, labor, and childbirth process. Babies are at risk of suffering from nerve trauma based on high birth weight or prolonged labor. Breech presentation can also contribute to the risk of an injury.
Babies can also suffer from brachial plexus injuries if their shoulders are wedged within the birth canal. Car accidents, motorcycle accidents, gunshot violence, and sports injuries can also cause nerve damage.
But OB/GYN negligence is not the only cause of brachial plexus injury. The trauma from car accidents and motorcycle accidents in particular can increase the risk of harm. These are accidents where there is additional pressure placed on the shoulders of the victims. This additional pressure can force the victims’ shoulders down while their necks stretch up and away from their shoulders.
In addition to physical trauma, tumors and radiation treatment can also contribute to a brachial plexus injury. Per Johns Hopkins, “The nerves may also be cut or damaged by cancer or radiation treatment.”
Long-term damage from brachial plexus injuries
Children and adults with brachial plexus injuries are typically able to heal from them if they are detected immediately. However, they can also cause children and adults to suffer permanent damage, including stiff joints, chronic pain, muscle atrophy, and permanent disability.
Victims can have lifetime issues moving their joints and will have to participate in ongoing physical therapy. Babies who sustain these injuries suffer even greater risks. Surgery is the most recommended solution. In some cases, it is the only treatment there is. Even after surgery, however, children and adults can still suffer from paralysis and muscle weakness.
How to treat a brachial plexus injury
Physical therapy and rotation of the joints is the recommended treatment for brachial plexus injuries. If the injury is the result of birth trauma, additional care will have to be provided to infants. Johns Hopkins notes, “In infants, if no improvement is seen after three months of occupational therapy, consulting a pediatric neurologist and pediatric neurosurgeon can help determine if your child can benefit from other interventions or surgery. Up to 1 in 10 babies with brachial plexus injury will require some level of surgery.”
Legal remedies for a brachial plexus injury in Memphis
Depending on the circumstances of your loved one’s injury, you may be able to file a claim against multiple liable parties. Brachial plexus injuries are injuries that can occur from an act of negligence. For babies, these injuries often occur because medical professionals dropped the ball. A doctor, nurse, or OBGYN could have failed to take the necessary precautions to protect your child.
This is known as medical malpractice, an act of negligence where medical professionals fail to live up to the required standard of care for their patients. You may be able to file a medical malpractice claim against the medical staff who failed to provide the required standard of care for your baby’s wellbeing.
If your brachial plexus injury was the result of a car accident or motorcycle accident, you may be able to file a claim against the other driver. Each driver has a responsibility to operate a motor vehicle in a safe manner.
Just like medical professionals, drivers have a standard of care that they owe other drivers and pedestrians. When their reckless actions cause an accident, they have violated that standard of care. They may automatically be held liable for your accident if you can prove their negligence.
Damages you can recover in a brachial plexus injury claim
One of the reasons why you may want to file a claim is to be reimbursed for your damages. Whether the injury victim is yourself, your baby, or your loved one, there are lifetime consequences that this injury will cause.
For your baby, he or she will suffer from permanent disabilities for the rest of their life. They can suffer from lifelong numbness and mental health issues. You or your loved one can also suffer from lifelong muscle weakness and stiff joints. You may have to pay for ongoing physical therapy services or other medical services.
To find out whether you have a case, reach out to the Memphis birth injury lawyers at Bailey & Greer, PLLC. We have a strong record of success in many types of personal injury cases, including medical malpractice. We serve injured clients in Memphis and Jackson. Call our office or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation today.
As founder of Bailey & Greer, R. Sadler Bailey has battled his fair share of insurance giants and wrongdoers and has achieved numerous multimillion-dollar results for the victims of catastrophic injuries and their families. What’s more, he has been involved in more than 40 appellate court decisions affecting Tennessee personal injury law, including many landmark appearances before the Tennessee Supreme Court.
Read more about R. Sadler Bailey