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Birth Injury: Brachial Plexus Palsy

Aug 17, 2007
Brachial Plexus Palsy (BPP) is a devastating condition that infants and some newborns can develop. The Brachial Plexus is a group of nerves on the spine that controls the feeling, control and the movement of the hands, arms and wrists. While this is not a well-discussed injury, interestingly it is more common than other birth injuries, even Cerebral Palsy and Downs Syndrome. Look at the statistics taken from the Brachial Plexus Palsy Foundation's Website.

* One in 1000, births suffer Down syndrome.
* Two or three per 1000 births suffer Cerebral Palsy.
* One per 3500, boys suffer Muscular Dystrophy.
* 1 in 1000 births suffer from Spina Bifida.
* 3 in 1000 births suffer Brachial Plexus Palsy.

There are three types of this condition reported by the BPP foundation. They are: (in order of severity) Stretch: The least severe of BPP injuries, are caused by swelling in the region of the Brachial Plexus, often spontaneously heals to restore 90 to 100% of the hand(s)/arm(s) use. Rupture: Nerves are completely severed from the plexus (Shoulder region bones and muscles) and require surgery for any possibility of healing. Even with surgery, though it cannot be guaranteed all patients will regain arm, hand and wrist use. Avulsion is the total tearing of the nerves from the spine and the Plexus. This is the most severe form of BPP. Avulsion requires surgery and often muscle transfer for any hope of recovery.

Here are the affects of Brachial Plexus Palsy:

Some individuals may have no control of hand, arms, and wrist. Some may have little control of arm and hand but no control of wrist. In the more acute cases, there may be no use of the affected arm(s) at all, so it will just hang limp. There are sometimes facial "sagging" on the affected side of the body. Other affects are numbness or lack of sensation in the affected arm/hand/shoulder.

Causes of Brachial Plexus Palsy:

Most injuries occur during birth if babies' shoulders are spread widely apart. This will cause the severance or tearing of the nerves as described above. The condition can be caused by forceps or other birthing processes that may involve moving a babies' shoulder head and neck region enough to cause tearing of the brachial nerves.

It is also possible for infants to be harmed to a degree where they develop Brachial Plexus Palsy if they are abused by caretakers.

If you or someone you know has a child that either has been diagnosed with BPP, or has signs of BPP, you may be entitled to damages. Only a qualified attorney can help you find the underlying cause of your baby's condition and only an attorney can get you the compensation you and your baby deserve.
About the Author
E. Michael Grossman is an accomplished personal injury attorney representing Brachial Plexus Palsy cases.
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