A letter to the editor published in Tauton Gazette recently reminded local readers that October was the annual Brachial Plexus Injury Awareness month. While we are a few days late on the official month, it is still a good time to remind community members of the risk of damage to the brachial plexus during a child’s delivery. Tens of thousands of children continue to be affected by this serious birth injury, and, unfortunately, most are not aware that it even exists until it affects someone that they know and love.
As the story reminds, the brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that control a wide range of motor skills. The nerve bundle being in the spinal cord and then forms in “trunks” near the top of the shoulder. When this bundle is damaged in any way, usually during a child’s delivery, then it is referred to as a brachial plexus injury. Considering that the nerves control movement in the shoulder, arm, hand and fingers, children who experience this damage often have mobility issues in that part of their body.
These injuries come in different forms. Some are quite severe with complete removal of the bundle from the spine, and other involve severe stretching or partial tears. As you’d expect, the severity of the damage to the nerve bundle affects the overall scope of the consequences for the child. The most severe damage leads to permanant, irreversible paralysis. Less damaging injuries can sometimes heal or be fixed with surgical intervention.
The article was written by a mother who first became invovled in the brachical plexus awareness community after her own daughter suffered the damage. She shared her personal story and provided a good first-person account of how the injury has affected her little girl. She explains that, at first, the injury caused her daughter’s entire right arm to be paralyzed. The mother was committing to giving her daughter the best chance possible of recovering from the injury. Toward that goal, the girl, now eleven years old, has gone through four major surgeries. On top of that, the youngster engaged in intensive therapy, all intended to slowly regain some movement and use of the arm that was completely paralyzed.
The mother notes that some progress has been made. She explaind that right now the girl probably has about 40 percent use of the arm. That total will never reach 100 percent, but with more therapy and recovery there is a chance of more gains.
It is important not to underestimate, however, the effect that this type of injury has on the life and future of the child. The letter lays out the reality quite well. She writes, “You and I take having two working arms and hands for granted. We don’t realize how difficult things could be if we didn’t have both arms and hands working. For example, try tying your shoes with one hand or zipping your jacket with one hand or even putting your hair in a ponytail with one hand. These are all things that we take for granted and don’t even realize it. This is what my daughter struggles with every day.”
If you or someone you know had a child suffer a brachial plexus injury during delivery, it may have been because of mistakes made by medical professionals. The lawyers at our firm are proud to stand up for the rights of all mothers and fathers whose children were harmed by substandard medical care. To learn more about the legal ramifications in Chicago and throughout Illinois in these situations, please feel free to give our office a call today.
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