Why Does Nerve Damage Happen In Birth Injuries?
Out of every 1,000 births in the U.S., somewhere between 6 to 8 of them involve a birth injury. Some of the most common injuries involve a nerve injury, resulting in a loss of feeling or even paralysis in the limbs. Fortunately, many children with nerve injuries make a full recovery, but it can require significant physical therapy and occupational therapy. In rare cases, the nerve injuries can be long-term or even permanent.
What Are Nerve Injuries?
Nerves are like our body’s electrical wiring system, and they transmit data back and forth from our brain to various parts of our body. There are two main types of nerves: 1) sensory, which give us the ability to feel pain, temperature, touch, and pressure, and 2) motor, which enable our brain to tell the muscles what we want them to do. If these nerves are pinched, stretched, or cut, those messages can’t get where they need to go, resulting in a loss of feeling (sensory) or muscle function (motor). Depending on how bad the nerves are damaged, it can be a long-term and even permanent loss of function.
Why Are Nerve Injuries Common to Birth Injuries?
Some of the most common injuries that can occur during birth involve damage to the baby’s nerves, particularly nerves around the neck and shoulders. Even in the “easiest” vaginal deliveries, the safe passage of the baby’s head and shoulders is the biggest challenge during childbirth. It requires medical skill and supervision. In a difficult delivery, the baby can get stuck. The struggle of pulling the baby’s head and shoulders through the vaginal canal can sometimes wrench the baby’s head too far from one of the shoulders, stretching the neck and damaging the nerves in the neck and shoulder region. The severity of the injury varies, and it usually depends on the level of damage to a group of nerves around the baby’s neck called the brachial plexus.
What Is the Brachial Plexus?
There is group of nerves called the brachial plexus (see illustration) that run from the spine in the baby’s neck to the baby’s arms. In many nerve-related birth injuries, there is compression, stretching, or tearing of the brachial plexus, and this damage to the nerves can result in numbness or paralysis of the baby’s arms and/or hands.
What’s the Difference Between Erb’s Palsy and Klumpke’s Palsy?
“Palsy” means weakness or paralysis. Both Erb’s Palsy and Klumpke’s Palsy are related to damage to the brachial plexus. Erb’s palsy is the result of the upper brachial plexus being damaged, whereas Klumpke’s palsy is the result of the lower brachial plexus being damaged. As a result, Erb’s Palsy results in numbness or paralysis of the upper arm and sometimes the forearm. Klumpke’s Palsy affects the lower parts of the arm, including the forearm, wrist, and hands. Both are sometimes called simply brachial plexus injuries.
How Do I Know If a Birth Injury Was Caused by Negligence?
Malpractice or negligence in a medical setting means the doctor or other medical professional failed to follow or deviated from standard procedures meant to keep patients safe. This means the doctor either failed in their duty to monitor a baby or take swift action to prevent a baby from suffering harm. Call (410) 698-1717 or contact Brown & Barron online today to schedule a free case review with a birth injury lawyer serving Maryland and Washington, D.C.