Here at Tyrone Law Firm we do everything we can to help families who have children with special needs. In fact, we have dedicated members of our staff who have had to navigate a path for their own children. If you have experienced a traumatic birth and are a parent of a child with a brachial plexus injury, we hope this post will bring new resources to you, your child, and your family:
Brachial plexus injury is defined as a loss of movement or weakness of the arm. During a traumatic birth, delivery the collection of nerves around the shoulder (called the brachial plexus) are damaged, causing a brachial plexus injury. There are a few causes of BPI’s: the infant’s head and neck pulling toward the side as the shoulders pass through the birth canal, pulling on the infant’s shoulders during a head-first delivery or pressure on the baby’s raised arms during a breech (feet-first) delivery. BPIs usually only affect the upper arm.
Brachial plexus injuries are not as common now as in the past, but they do happen. There are many contributing factors, such as a large baby, mother’s weight, position at delivery, to name a few. BPI symptoms can be noticed right away or shortly after birth. Symptoms include, but are not limited to: no movement or limited movement in the newborn’s upper or lower arm or hand, the babies arm being bent at the elbow and held close to the body, absent reflexes or decreased grip on the affected side. With gentle massage and therapy, most babies will heal from this injury within 3-6 months, but if strength does not return, the baby may require surgery.
United Brachial Plexus Network, Inc. (UBPN), believes that “prevention” before deliver is better than “interventions” after delivery. Too often, babies get stuck during delivery and fail to labor properly, so forceps and suction are used to force the baby out. Although it may seem simple and harmless, this is very traumatic to the baby and can result in injury. UBPN encourages women to labor in the standing or squatting position, encouraging natural labor and hopefully eliminating the use of tools for delivery. The UBPN wants moms to remember that this injury is not their fault. There are 2-3 injuries for every 1000 babies, most of which are preventable.
BPIs are most common at birth, but there are other frequent causes. The UBPN states that “other causes of brachial plexus injuries include: automobile, motorcycle or boating accidents; sports injuries; animal bites; and gunshot or puncture wounds.” Traumatic injuries should be treated with proper medical care. BPIs can be diagnosed by a brachial plexus physician, who specializes in traumatic injuries.
The United Brachial Plexus Network, Inc., offers support, resources and guidance to families who have experienced a brachial plexus injury, due to a traumatic injury and to those who have a baby with a BPI from delivery. Parents can join forums to talk about their personal experience and offer encouragement to other families. This gives families and individuals a chance to cope and understand their injury. The UBPN, strives to raise awareness of and help prevent injuries during delivery.
If you would like to know more about Brachial Plexus Injuries, you can find the United Brachial Plexus Network, Inc., on the web at http://www.ubpn.org. If our firm can ever help you or someone you know, please don’t hesitate to contact us at the Tyrone Law Firm.