A clothed newborn's arm resting on a blanket in an incubator.

Imagine the joy of childbirth overshadowed by an unexpected tragedy—a brachial plexus injury. This serious injury occurs when the bundle of nerves controlling the arm and hand, known as the brachial plexus, is damaged during delivery.

Such injuries can range from mild, temporary weakness to permanent disability, affecting the child’s ability to crawl, grasp, or reach—fundamental actions for any growing child.

Sadly, brachial plexus injuries are not as rare as one might hope, occurring in one to two out of every 1,000 births in the United States. Often, these injuries result from excessive force during delivery or failure to properly address complications such as shoulder dystocia, leaving families to face unexpected challenges and lifelong changes.

At Olson Personal Injury Lawyers in Denver, we specialize in turning the tide for families affected by brachial plexus injuries due to childbirth complications. With our profound expertise and compassionate approach, we have successfully advocated for countless families, securing the necessary compensation to cover medical treatments, ongoing care, and more.

We understand the immense physical, emotional, and financial impact these injuries can have, and we are here to ensure that your rights are fiercely protected. Don’t let medical negligence alter your family’s future without a fight.

Contact Olson Personal Injury Lawyers at (720) 730-4325 or visit our website to schedule your free consultation. Let us help you secure the justice and support your child deserves.

Trust the Experience of a Top Denver Brachial Plexus Injury Attorney

When facing the challenges of a brachial plexus injury, you need an attorney who not only understands the medical complexity of your case but also possesses the dedication and expertise to navigate its legal nuances. At Olson Personal Injury Lawyers, we bring both to your side.

Our firm is recognized throughout Denver for our specialized knowledge in handling brachial plexus injury cases, backed by a history of successful outcomes that have changed the lives of many families for the better.

Our approach is deeply rooted in a commitment to personalized care. We know that behind every case is a family whose lives have been turned upside down, a child whose future depends on the outcomes we secure.

That’s why our legal representation is meticulously tailored to the specifics of your situation. From the initial consultation to the final verdict or settlement, we ensure that every step taken is in your best interest, informed by thorough research and expert collaborations.

Olson Personal Injury Lawyers doesn’t just provide legal services; we offer a partnership you can trust during one of the most challenging times of your life. Our team is dedicated to securing the compensation you need to cover medical treatments, rehabilitation, and any necessary adjustments to enhance your child’s quality of life.

With our attorneys by your side, you gain not just robust legal representation but fierce advocates who are as invested in your family’s future as you are.

An Explanation of Brachial Plexus Injuries

Brachial plexus injuries occur when the network of nerves that sends signals from your spine to your shoulder, arm, and hand is damaged. These nerves originate in the spinal cord in the neck and traverse down to the armpit.

They are essential for motor and sensory functions of the upper limbs. During childbirth, these nerves can be stretched, compressed, or torn in a number of ways, typically during a difficult delivery or under conditions such as shoulder dystocia, where the baby’s shoulder becomes lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bone.

Types of Brachial Plexus Injuries

  1. Erb’s Palsy: This is the most common type of brachial plexus injury and involves the upper roots of the brachial plexus. It typically affects the movement of the infant’s shoulder and elbow muscles. The classic sign of Erb’s palsy is the “waiter’s tip” posture, where the infant holds the arm limply by the side with the forearm turned outward and the wrist bent. Recovery varies; some infants regain movement within a few months, while others may require physical therapy or surgery.
  2. Klumpke’s Palsy: Less common than Erb’s Palsy, Klumpke’s Palsy affects the lower roots of the brachial plexus. It primarily impacts the muscles of the forearm and hand, leading to a claw-like appearance of the hand and fingers. This type of injury can also be associated with Horner’s syndrome, a condition marked by a drooping eyelid and a smaller pupil on the affected side. Treatment may involve physical therapy and, in more severe cases, surgical intervention.

Understanding the nature of these injuries and the conditions under which they occur is crucial for diagnosing and treating them effectively. Brachial plexus injuries can have a significant impact on the motor functions of a newborn, and early intervention is key to improving outcomes.

Whether through physical therapy, surgery, or both, managing these injuries early on can help mitigate long-term effects and improve the quality of life for those affected.

Causes and Risk Factors of Brachial Plexus Injuries

Brachial plexus injuries during childbirth can result from physical trauma as the baby passes through the birth canal. Understanding the causes and identifying risk factors are essential steps in preventing these injuries and ensuring the health of both mother and child.

Common Causes

  1. Natural Birth Complications: Brachial plexus injuries most frequently occur during a difficult natural delivery. They are particularly associated with shoulder dystocia, where the baby’s shoulder gets stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone, leading to excessive pulling on the baby’s head as the healthcare provider attempts to free the shoulder.
  2. Excessive Force: Using too much force during delivery, whether manually or with instruments like forceps or a vacuum extractor, can stretch the baby’s neck unnaturally. This excessive force can damage the brachial plexus nerves, leading to temporary or permanent injuries.
  3. Medical Mismanagement: Inadequate handling of risk factors or complications during delivery, such as failure to predict a difficult birth despite large fetal size or prolonged labor, can lead to situations where brachial plexus injuries are more likely to occur.

Risk Factors

  1. Maternal Diabetes: Mothers with diabetes are more likely to have babies with higher birth weights, which can increase the risk of shoulder dystocia and subsequent brachial plexus injuries.
  2. Macrosomia: Babies with a birth weight over 8 pounds 13 ounces (4000 grams) are at greater risk for these injuries due to their larger size, which can complicate the delivery process.
  3. Prolonged Labor: Longer labor can lead to increased stress and strain, heightening the risk of injuries as desperate measures might be taken to expedite delivery.
  4. Breech Delivery: Deliveries where the baby is in a breech (feet first) position can also increase the risk of brachial plexus injuries due to abnormal pressure on the arms and shoulders.

Mitigation Through Proper Medical Care

Proper prenatal care and accurate assessment of potential delivery complications are critical. Obstetricians should identify risk factors early and plan deliveries accordingly, potentially scheduling a cesarean section if the risk of a brachial plexus injury is high.

During delivery, gentle handling and appropriate use of birth-assisting tools are necessary to minimize the risk of injury. Training and preparedness to handle shoulder dystocia without resorting to excessive force can also significantly reduce the incidence of these injuries.

By understanding and addressing these risk factors, medical professionals can take proactive steps to mitigate the likelihood of brachial plexus injuries, ensuring safer delivery outcomes for infants.

Impact of Brachial Plexus Injuries on Child Development

Long-Term Physical Effects

  1. Motor Function Impairment: The most direct impact of a brachial plexus injury is on a child’s ability to move the affected arm. Depending on the severity of the injury, children may experience weakness, loss of fine motor skills, or even total paralysis in the affected limb.
  2. Muscle Atrophy and Joint Problems: Without normal nerve function, muscles may not develop properly, leading to muscle atrophy. Additionally, abnormal muscle contractions can cause joint issues, such as contractures, where the joints become permanently bent or inflexible.
  3. Impact on Daily Activities: The physical limitations can significantly affect a child’s ability to perform daily activities, such as dressing, eating, and playing, which can also impact social interactions and self-esteem.

Cognitive and Emotional Development

While brachial plexus injuries primarily affect physical capabilities, the challenges associated with these disabilities can also impact cognitive and emotional development. Children may experience frustration, anger, or sadness due to their physical limitations, which can affect their social interactions and academic performance.

Importance of Early Diagnosis and Therapeutic Interventions

  1. Early Diagnosis: Prompt diagnosis of a brachial plexus injury allows for early intervention, which is crucial for optimal recovery. Early diagnosis helps in planning out a comprehensive treatment strategy that can significantly improve functional outcomes.
  2. Physical Therapy: Starting physical therapy early can help maintain the range of motion in the affected limb, strengthen muscles, and reduce the risk of contractures. Physical therapists use exercises tailored to each child’s specific needs, which evolve as the child grows.
  3. Occupational Therapy: This focuses on improving a child’s ability to perform daily activities independently. Occupational therapists provide adaptive techniques and tools to help children navigate their physical limitations.
  4. Surgical Interventions: In some cases, surgery may be required to repair or graft nerves or to release contractures. Early surgical evaluation and intervention can be critical, especially if initial therapy does not lead to improvement.

The combined efforts of pediatricians, neurologists, therapists, and surgeons are essential in managing the effects of brachial plexus injuries. With the right support and timely intervention, many children can achieve excellent functional recovery and lead full, active lives despite their early challenges.

Compensation and Recovery for Brachial Plexus Injuries

Families dealing with the consequences of brachial plexus injuries may face significant emotional and financial burdens. Understanding the types of compensation available and the process for securing these funds is crucial for effective recovery and management of the condition.

Types of Damages Available

  1. Medical Expenses: This includes costs for immediate medical treatment, surgeries, and hospital stays related to the injury. It also covers ongoing expenses such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and any other rehabilitation costs necessary for recovery.
  2. Pain and Suffering: These damages are awarded for the physical pain and emotional distress the child and family endure due to the injury. This type of compensation acknowledges the non-economic impact of brachial plexus injuries, which can be profound and long-lasting.
  3. Future Care Needs: In cases where the injury leads to permanent disability, compensation can include the estimated costs of future medical care and any necessary modifications to the home or vehicle to accommodate the child’s disability.
  4. Loss of Earning Potential: If the injury affects the child’s ability to earn a living in the future, compensation may be sought for projected future earnings, taking into account the severity of the impairment and the potential career limitations.

Calculating Compensation

Compensation is calculated based on the severity of the injury, the cost of current and future medical care, the impact on the child’s quality of life, and the projected future losses. Lawyers often collaborate with medical experts and economists to estimate these costs accurately.

Legal Process Expectations

The process begins with a detailed assessment of the injury and its impacts, followed by filing a lawsuit if negligence is believed to be a factor. Families can expect negotiations with the responsible parties or their insurers, and if a satisfactory settlement is not reached, the case may go to trial.

Throughout this process, having experienced legal representation is vital to navigate the complexities and advocate effectively for the child’s and family’s needs.

Families pursuing compensation for brachial plexus injuries should be prepared for a process that may be lengthy and emotionally challenging but ultimately provides necessary financial support for the child’s well-being and future.

Reach Out to an Elite Denver Brachial Plexus Injury Law Firm

If your child has suffered a brachial plexus injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Olson Personal Injury Lawyers at (720) 730-4325 or visit our website to schedule your free consultation.

Let our Denver birth injury law firm help you navigate the legal process and secure the compensation your family deserves.