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Brachial Plexus Injury Primer

It is surprising that one of the most common Illinois birth injuries is also one of the injuries least known to the general public. Brachial plexus injuries affect every two or three births out of a thousand. Our Illinois birth injury attorneys have helped many families whose children have suffered one of these injuries as a result of medical negligence. Considering the number of families with loved ones dealing with a brachial plexus injury, it is important for more awareness to be raised about the condition.

What Is It?

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves the start near the neck and shoulder-we all have them. The nerve bundle originates at the spinal cord and plays a crucial role in controlling movement in all parts of the arms-shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand. When this bundle of nerves is damaged, there can be severe consequences for the use of the arms. Damage often causes the nerve to stop sending signals from the brain which prevents the arm and muscles from working properly. Besides losing the ability to move muscles, the individual also looses feeling in this part of the body.

There are different degrees of severity with brachial plexus injuries. The most damaging injury is one where the nerve is completely cut or snapped. That is not always what happens. In some cases the nerve bundle is merely stretched or torn. The potential for healing and the consequences are much different depending on whether the nerves are cut, torn, or stretched.

What Are The Causes?

Essentially any physical force that applies strong pressure to the nerve bundle can lead to it being damaged. This network of nerves is fragile, and so it does not take all the mush force to lead to harm. This is particularly true of infants who are, of course, still very vulnerable. For example, when the head and neck are forced opposite the shoulder during birth with too much force, a brachial plexus injury might result. When an extraordinary amount of force is applies the nerves can actually be torn out of their roots in the neck. Our Illinois birth injury lawyers have worked with those in our area whose children suffered the damage in just this way.

How Is It Treated?

Treatment for one of these injuries depends essentially on the type of harm caused to the nerve bundle. If the nerves were only stretched, there is a good chance that they will heal completely with time. Therapy is usually provided in these circumstances to help the healing. Beyond that, surgical options exist for more severe injuries. These surgeries can either work to repair damaged nerves or transfer undamaged nerves in the area-using a graft from the patient’s own body. However, in a bit of good news, doctors are now able to use nerves from other sources (including cadavers) to custom fit matches for some patients.

If you or a loved one has suffered one of these injuries at birth it may be because the medical team involved applied more force than necessary during the delivery. Please get in touch with our Illinois birth injury lawyers to share your story and learn how we might be able to help.

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