Permanent Brachial Plexus Injury: Portland Birth Injury Lawyers

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Oregon Medical Malpractice Resulting in Permanent Brachial Plexus Injury: Portland Birth Injury Lawyers Explain

There are many different types of birth injuries which could be caused by Oregon medical malpractice.  One of the most common types of birth injuries is a brachial plexus injury.  Almost 90% of all children with a brachial plexus injury recover.  However, about according to John Hopkins Medicine, 10% will need some form of surgical intervention.  While some of these surgeries work, many fail to return all motor sensation and function.  Some completely fail leaving permanent brachial plexus injuries to newborns.  Our Portland birth injury lawyers know how devastating a permanent brachial plexus injury could be for a child and his or her family.  We represent newborns who have been seriously injured before they have had a fair chance.

What is a Brachial Plexus Injury?

A brachial plexus injury is an injury to the bundle of nerves that originate in the neck vertebrae and extend to the base of the neck and down the shoulder girdle.  The nerves combine and recombine several times as they extend to the fingertips.  These nerves can be injured when they are stretched to the point of tearing or pulling away from the vertebrae (spinal cord).

Types of Damage to Brachial Plexus 

There are several types of damage that could be caused to a newborn’s brachial plexus.  This ranges from a stretch to completely pulling the nerves out of the spinal cord.  The types of damage resulting in brachial plexus injuries include the following:

  • Neuropraxia – when the nerves are stretched
  • Neuroma – when the nerves are stretched to the point where they tear and result in scar tissue to repair it
  • Avulsion – the worst injury when the nerve is pulled completely from the spinal cord and torn from the socket
  • Rupture – a partial tear of the nerve which is larger and could be a complete tear at another part of the nerve in the arm.

Common Causes of Brachial Plexus Injuries

There are many ways how Oregon medical malpractice could result in brachial plexus injuries.  Most of the causes of brachial plexus injuries are due to the negligence of a healthcare provider.  Most instances of negligence could be avoided with the proper care and treatment that is required of a healthcare provider.  This is known as the standard of care.  

The most common causes of brachial plexus injuries include the following:

  • Pulling, yanking, or grabbing at a baby’s arm to help pull him or her out of the birth canal
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Small birth canal/pelvis
  • Large (oversized) baby
  • Delays in performing a c-section, or failure to perform a c-section
  • Mishandling of the baby after birth, and
  • Other common causes.

Two Types of Brachial Plexus Nerve Injuries 

There are two common types of brachial plexus injuries which parents should be aware of.  These two types are the following:

Erb’s Palsy – injury to the brachial plexus that affects the upper part of the shoulder and arm.  Generally the lower arm can function normally but the top of the arm has decrease sensation, movement, or strength.  

Klumpke’s Palsyinjury to the brachial plexus which affects the lower part of the arm, wrist, and hand.  Many times the upper arm has full sensation, range of motion, and strength, but the lower arm has decreased sensation, function, strength, and movement.

The differences between these two types of permanent brachial plexus injuries is where the damage to the brachial plexus occurs.  Birth injuries due to Oregon medical malpractice could affect just one part of the brachial plexus and not the other.  The nerves also maintain their unique identify as they travel down the arm, thus if one nerve fiber is damaged in the neck it could affect part of one finger but the rest of the arm would have full sensation, movement, and strength.

Surgery for Permanent Brachial Plexus Injury

Although 90% of brachial plexus injuries heal, the 10% that do not are usually catastrophic.  This is because the nerve injury will not just grow to fix itself and get better; it will be a permanent injury.  This means that a newborn never gets a fair shot at life with a fully-functioning arm.  

Children who have permanent brachial plexus injuries need to get surgery sooner rather than later.  Generally, most surgeries are performed at 4-9 months.  Anything later could result in too much scar tissue that the nerve could not be repaired.  Surgeries sooner may put the child at unnecessary risk of injury from surgery.  The more severe the brachial plexus injury, the quicker the intervention must be.  Sometimes there are multiple surgeries to repair the damage done.  These surgeries may only repair a part of the lost sensation, function, and strength.  Other times the surgeries recover nothing and unnecessarily put a newborn under significant stress just to cause muscle, tendon, and skin damage in an attempt to repair a doctor’s mistakes.

Get Our Help for Permanent Brachial Plexus Injury Cases

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form.  We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover. 

Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton,  Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles,  St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.  

We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.  

Please act quickly, there is a limited time (Statute of Limitations) in which you can bring a claim under the law.

For a free case evaluation


(541) 385-1999 in Bend, Oregon
(503) 479-3646 in Portland, Oregon
(612) 444-3374 in Minnesota

– or fill out the form below –

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