The Long-Term Effects of a Brachial Plexus Injury: What to Expect

If your baby suffered a brachial plexus injury during birth, you must be prepared for the potential long-term effects of that injury. A brachial plexus is a complex group of nerves extending from the bottom of the neck down through the shoulders and into the arms and hands. They control muscle function throughout the upper body and feeling in the upper limbs. 

Brachial plexus nerves can be affected by compression inside a mother’s womb or they may be injured during birth as the shoulders pass through the birth canal. Unfortunately, some brachial plexus birth injuries are caused by negligence on the part of the doctor or the labor and delivery nurse facilitating the delivery.


There are several different types of injuries to the brachial plexus nerves. Symptoms of a brachial plexus injury can include

  • Full or partial lack of movement at the shoulder or elbow
  • Weak grip
  • Numbness
  • Arms at an odd position or hanging limp 

Depending on the injury, a baby may experience muscle weakness in the affected arm or hand or decreased movement or sensation in the entire upper region. Fortunately, because a baby’s nerves behave differently from an adult’s, the baby may not experience much pain. 


Some brachial plexus injuries heal on their own. Your doctor will monitor your child for the first three to twelve months to watch for any recovery. Parents can perform physical and/or occupational therapy and range of motion exercises with the help and guidance of injury rehabilitation therapists. These therapies can help keep joints and muscles moving more normally. 

Babies who continue to have problems after the three to six-month time period may benefit from surgical interventions including nerve surgery, nerve transfer, osteotomy, tendon transfers, open reduction of the shoulder joint, or free muscle transfer.


When symptoms are mild, most babies recover within three to six months of the injury. Even the prognosis for moderate to severe injuries can still be positive with early intervention and a combination of surgery and physical therapy. 

But in some cases, there is potential for complications. Palsy or weakness, paralysis, and loss of sensation in the arm, wrist, or hand can affect some children. Although most cases of palsy will disappear as the nerves heal, some children may be affected for the rest of their lives or be affected by contractures, or chronically tightened muscles in the affected arm. 

Brachial Plexus Injury Compensation

A brachial plexus birth injury can result in high costs for parents and even medical costs later in life for the child. If the injury was severe or complications occurred, it could require expensive surgeries and long-term physical therapy. Families of these children can face the overwhelming medical costs of surgeries, doctor’s visits, physical therapy, adaptive devices, prescription medications, and more. In some cases, a child may even suffer from emotional distress or physical pain and suffering resulting from their injury.

As the parent, you may have the right to file a brachial plexus injury lawsuit against the negligent healthcare provider who caused this injury. A brachial plexus injury lawsuit is a medical malpractice suit filed against a provider who has breached the standard of care they are held to. If the provider is found liable, you may be compensated for your damages. 

Getting the Help of an Experienced Brachial Plexus Injury Lawyer

If your child suffered a brachial plexus injury at birth, you should get the advice of an experienced brachial plexus injury lawyer to understand what you are entitled to. At Kuhlman Law, we know what you are going through as a parent and have dedicated our firm to protecting victims of negligence and their families. Contact us at (503) 479-3646 or through our contact form to schedule a no-cost consultation to discuss your options. 



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