New York City Medical Malpractice Attorneys – Serving All Boroughs
The brachial plexus are nerves that run from the spine to the neck to the arm. This fragile network of nerve fibers can be injured by blows, cuts, stretching, and pressure to the surrounding areas. In severe cases, the nerve fibers can actually be pulled out of their roots. As these nerves carry signals from the brain to the arm, nerve damage can result in loss of movement in the arm or even complete paralysis. This is an all too common birth injury as the labor and delivery can result in the baby’s head and neck being twisted. A form of this type of condition is known as Erb’s palsy.
Brachial Plexus: Types, Causes and Treatment Options
The most common cause of an injury to the brachial plexus is a difficult delivery where a child who is too large for the mother will lead to a breech or a prolonged labor. This is especially true in cases where the medical professionals must resort to force to pull the baby free, causing damage to the nerves in the process. There are four major types of injuries that can be sustained. These include the following:
- Neurapraxia – Stretching the nerve past the point of comfort, but not tearing it. This type can usually heal on its own and is common in athletes, as well as infants.
- Neuroma – Another form of stretch injury. This form often results in scar tissue which presses upon the rest of the nerve. Usually, there is some form of recovery, but almost never total.
- Rupture – More than a stretch injury, this occurs when the actual nerve tears. In no instances will a rupture heal on its own without some form of medical intervention.
- Avulsion – The most severe form of injury where the nerve is torn from the spinal cord. Again, healing will require medical intervention for splicing to help restore function.
As explained above, in some cases these injuries may heal on their own and only require time. Infants who were injured during delivery may be healed by four months of age. In other cases, however, it becomes necessary for medical professionals to step in. Treatment may include physical therapy to help regain functioning and strength, however, this is not always enough. In cases where more drastic measures are needed (if no progress is made in three to six months), it may be necessary to switch to surgery.
Our Work in Muhammad v. Fitzpatrick
For over 20 years, victims of brachial plexus had to deal with the “maternal forces of labor” defense in cases of medical malpractice. This was a defense which took all responsibility away from medical professionals – stating that brachial plexus injuries were not, in fact, caused by negligence or recklessness, but rather could be attributed to the natural forces of childbirth. Our lead New York medical malpractice attorney Joseph M. Lichtenstein took on a case that sought to overturn it in Muhammad v. Fitzpatrick.
For over two years, he built a case which sought to prove that this defense had no scientific evidence backing it up. In the end, he was able to prove that the defense was “junk science” and could not be upheld under the Frye test. The New York Law Journal called this decision “huge.” Want to learn how this affects brachial plexus injury cases? Learn more by clicking here. Contact a Long Island birth injury attorney from our team today to learn more!