If your child has Klumpke’s palsy or another type of brachial plexus birth injury, you may be eligible to pursue a payout and hold the doctor or hospital liable for the medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses. Klumpke’s palsy is often preventable and may be the result of medical malpractice.
To learn more, reach out to the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today. Call 1-800-222-9529 to connect with an attorney in your state. A birth injury lawyer can take on your case at no out-of-pocket cost to your family.
For a free legal consultation, call 1-800-222-9529
Klumpke’s Palsy Lawsuits & Injury Cases
Klumpke’s palsy and other types of brachial plexus birth injuries are often preventable when doctors follow proper precautions and protocols during labor and delivery. Not using excessive force, only using assistive devices when necessary, and calling for an emergency cesarean section (C-section) in cases when the baby is too large to deliver vaginally can reduce the risk significantly.
When this type of birth injury occurs, proving a medical malpractice case relies on being able to prove the doctor acted negligently and failed to provide the acceptable standard of care. Depending on the circumstances of your case, a doctor, another medical practitioner, or the hospital could be liable.
To prove a brachial plexus injury, your birth injury attorney will build a strong case using medical records, medical expert witnesses, and other evidence. With this type of case, you may be able to fight for a payout and recover damages that include:
- Medical bills related to the newborn’s injury
- Other treatment costs
- Therapy and rehabilitation expenses
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Pain and suffering damages
There are deadlines dictating how long you have to file this type of lawsuit, so it is wise to reach out to an attorney and get started as soon as possible.
Klumpke’s Palsy Lawyer Near Me 1-800-222-9529
Klumpke’s Palsy Types
Klumpke’s palsy, sometimes called Klumpke’s paralysis or Dejerine-Klumpke palsy, is a type of brachial plexus injury. The brachial plexus is a grouping of spinal nerves that run from the back of the neck to the shoulder, through the armpit, and down the arm.
How a birth injury to the brachial plexus affects an infant depends on the location and severity of the injury. Klumpke’s palsy affects an area of the brachial plexus that controls the muscles and nerves of the forearm, wrist, and hand.
Four types of injuries occur to the brachial plexus:
- Avulsion: The injury severs the connection between the nerve and the spine (injury occurs at the spine)
- Rupture: The injury tears the nerve in another area, not at the spine
- Neuroma: The injury to the nerve heals, but scar tissue prevents the signals from traveling between the muscles and the spine
- Neuropraxia: Also known as stretching, this type of injury damages the nerve but does not sever it
Klumpke’s Palsy Causes
Klumpke’s palsy occurs when there is trauma to the neck or shoulder, usually during vaginal delivery of a newborn. Risk factors include:
- Large babies and especially petite mothers
- Long, difficult labor
- Medical care providers tugging on the baby by one arm during delivery
- Other rough handling during delivery that injures the lower brachial plexus
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Klumpke’s Palsy Symptoms
Doctors and other care providers will often see symptoms they suspect are from a brachial plexus injury before a newborn leaves the hospital, or parents will question why their child has a drooping eyelid or seems to have a paralyzed arm.
In general, Klumpke’s palsy symptoms may include:
- Holding the affected hand in a claw-like position with the forearm flat and the wrist and fingers tightened
- Drooping of the eyelid on the opposite side of the face, known as Horner’s syndrome
- Paralysis of the muscles in the lower arm and hand on one side
- No reaction to touch in the affected arm and hand
Infant Loss of Feeling, Absent Reflexes, or Paralysis
If you think that your baby is experiencing numbness or a loss of feeling, paralysis, or an absence of reflexes, these symptoms may be signs of a bigger medical issue.
Injuries during birth can lead to nerve damage to the shoulder, neck, and collarbone areas during birth. You may notice symptoms such as an arm that is turned in or unable to move. If your child experienced damage to their spinal cord during birth, you may notice that your child seems unable to move certain parts of their body or the reflexes in their arms and legs are absent or weak.
Children that exhibit these signs may have experienced physical trauma during their birth which may be the result of medical negligence.
Infant With Arms Bent Toward Body
Throughout the pregnancy, you looked forward to watching as your infant began to grow, develop, and reach important childhood milestones. Instead, nerve damage your child endured during birth can lead to conditions that cause them to favor hugging their arm toward their body in a bent fashion.
Some of the disorders that are characterized by this symptom include cerebral palsy, Klumpke’s palsy, and Erb’s palsy. All three are brachial plexus injuries and can result from birth injuries or complications during labor and delivery. To find out the exact cause of your child’s persistent impulse to keep one arm bent toward their body, simply fill out our form or call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at 1-844-908-0346 to connect with a birth injury lawyer for an infant with their arm bent toward their body who can help you file a successful lawsuit.
BIRTH INJURY LAWSUIT
Filing a comprehensive lawsuit can be time-consuming and difficult without the right help. Your attorney can help you establish the four elements of your lawsuit that must be proven. You must prove that your physician owed you a professional duty and breached that duty. You must further prove that your physician’s breach resulted in an injury that resulted in damages.
Klumpke’s Palsy Diagnosis and Treatment
If you or a healthcare provider spot signs that may indicate Klumpke’s palsy, they will order a physical examination to check for paralysis. Then, they will confirm the diagnosis and severity of using one or more diagnostic tests. This could include:
- Electromyogram (EMG)
- Imaging studies including X-ray, ultrasound, and MRI
- Nerve conduction studies
Physical therapy is the typical treatment for helping babies recover as much movement and nerve function as possible. This is often effective, especially for those with only partial tears or bruising. If there is little improvement after four months, your doctor may recommend surgery to try to repair the torn nerve.
Klumpke’s Palsy Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my baby has Klumpke’s Palsy?
If you notice your baby seems to have paralysis or weakness in one arm, or other signs and symptoms of this type of birth injury, bring it to the attention of a trusted doctor.
Can Klumpke’s Palsy be fatal?
Klumpke’s palsy is not fatal, but it can cause lasting impairment. Most patients with Klumpke’s palsy do well with physical therapy alone and may regain full strength, feeling, and control over the affected forearm, hand, and fingers. In some cases, children make only a partial recovery and may suffer lasting effects that include disabilities related to the use of their affected hand and fingers.
Who is liable for Klumpke’s Palsy?
The doctor who delivered your baby or another healthcare provider who failed to call for an emergency C-section may be liable for your child’s birth injuries. In other cases, the hospital may be liable based on the facts of your case. Your attorney will help you identify all potentially liable parties.
What is the statute of limitations for Klumpke’s Palsy?
How long you have to take legal action against the doctor or hospital responsible for your child’s injuries varied based on where the incident occurred. Some states have extremely short statutes of limitations, while others give you several years. Many will toll the countdown when the victim is a minor, but some have a statute of repose that sets a strict deadline on how long you have.
Your birth injury attorney will be able to give you more information during your free review of your case.
Klumpke’s Palsy Glossary Terms
- What is Neuropraxia? Neuropraxia is the mildest type of nerve injury. The nerve sustains bruising or a partial tear, but the patient is usually able to recover fully.
- What is Neuroma? Neuroma is a type of nerve injury that occurs when the nerve heals, but scar tissue grows around the nerve and prevents signals from traveling between the arm and the brain.
- What is Avulsion? Avulsion is the most severe type of nerve injury, occurring when the nerve is torn at the spine. Patients usually require surgery to recover any movement or feeling.
Talk to a Klumpke’s Palsy Birth Injury Attorney Today
If your child has a Klumpke’s palsy diagnosis, you may be able to build a strong medical malpractice case against the medical professional or hospital responsible for their birth injury. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today: 1-800-222-9529. You can connect with a local birth injury lawyer who will help you pursue damages.
How Is Erb’s Palsy Diagnosed?
If a physician suspects your infant has suffered an injury to their brachial plexus, the bundle of nerves around the neck and upper arm, they can diagnose Erb’s palsy by performing a physical examination and a variety of tests. The results can inform the physician how severely the brachial plexus has been damaged, leading to possible treatment options and a prognosis for the condition.
BACKGROUND ON ERB’S PALSY
Within every human body, the brachial plexus works to transmit signals from the spinal cord to the body’s hands, arms, and shoulders. If one of these nerves is damaged, stretched, or detached, the body’s ability to transmit signals may be compromised. Depending on the extent of the nerve damage, the injury can manifest as an array of physical problems. If the damage occurs within the upper brachial plexus, a doctor may diagnose the sufferer with Erb’s palsy, which may be evident by an individual’s ability to control their shoulder or arm.
TYPES OF TESTS FOR DIAGNOSING ERB’S PALSY
Sometimes Erb’s palsy may correct itself with no medical intervention. In other cases, physical therapy or even surgery may be required. The outcome for a patient may depend on an efficient and effective diagnosis with treatment by medical providers.
Doctors may use a potential battery of tests to diagnose Erb’s palsy. Some of these tests include:
- Nerve conduction studies (NCS)
- Electromyography (EMG)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Computerized tomography (CT) myelography
Nerve Conduction Study
A neurologist can order NCS to track the flow of an electrical impulse through a nerve and see how quickly or effectively the impulse reaches the muscle. This test can highlight areas that have been damaged or destroyed.
Neurologists conduct an EMG to check for the muscle’s response to neural transmitted impulses. Using electrodes, the physician can gauge the responsiveness of a baby’s muscles, as well as any electrical activity that may manifest if a nerve stimulates a muscle. This activity can be measured during forceful contractions, slight contractions, and while the muscle is resting.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
This imaging technique combines a magnetic field and computer-generated radio waves to depict detailed, cross-sectional images of the tissues and organs in the human body. MRI technology can also generate a 3D model of these areas that enables the physician to view them from various angles. With this level of insight, doctors can assess the damage resulting from a brachial plexus injury and plan possible strategies for reconstruction. Over 30 million scans are performed every year in the United States according to a 2018 study published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
An X-ray gives the doctor a way of visually detecting injuries to the brachial plexus.
Computerized Tomography Myelography
Another imaging tool that physicians may use to diagnose Erb’s palsy is a CT scan. A radiologist performs this scan using a contrast dye combined with X-rays to check for issues in the spine. This dye, which has been injected into the spinal column, can appear on the X-ray so that the radiologist can view the spinal cord, subarachnoid space, and structures that are nearby.
AN ERB’S PALSY DIAGNOSIS DETERMINES POSSIBLE TREATMENTS
Following an Erb’s palsy diagnosis, a physician can begin to devise possible treatment plans. Options for treatment depend on the type and severity of injury to the brachial plexus.
In some cases, nerves may have been stretched, and this type of injury can recover on its own without further treatment, or with some physical therapy to improve range of motion and alleviate stiffness of the joints.
In other cases, nerves in the brachial plexus may have suffered more severe damage and must be repaired via surgery. The sooner surgery happens, the more likely the injured baby can live a healthier life. Several types of surgeries may be considered, depending on the nature of the injury, including:
- Neurolysis surgery to release any scar tissue surrounding a nerve.
- Nerve grafts remove damaged sections of nerves and replace them with healthy nerves from another area of the body.
- Nerve transfer is a form of “bypass surgery” that is required if a nerve root has been fully torn from the spinal cord. A healthy nerve is connected to a dysfunctional nerve to prompt new nerve growth.
- Muscle transfer surgery involves removing a muscle from one part of the body and placing it in the arm. The surgeon can then reconnect the blood vessels and nerves that feed into the transferred muscle.
The rate of complete recovery is 80 to 96 percent if implementation of treatment options begin the first two weeks, according to the National Center for Biotechnical Information (NCBI).
AFTER AN ERB’S PALSY DIAGNOSIS, YOU SHOULD CONSIDER CALLING A LAWYER
If an infant sustains damage to their brachial plexus and is diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, it may be a result of medical negligence. In such cases, the negligent medical provider should cover damages like medical treatment, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses.
Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 261-9292 for a free case review if you believe you may be entitled to compensation.
Is Erb’s Palsy Preventable?
An Erb’s palsy diagnosis results from a brachial plexus injury that, in some cases, can be avoided with proper monitoring and medical techniques. As such, Erb’s palsy is preventable.
HOW ERB’S PALSY HAPPENS
Among the many nerve networks that drive the human body, the brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that stretches from the spinal cord in the neck down through the arm. This network enables sensation in the arm and control of the muscles in the hand, wrist, arm, elbow, and shoulder.
If the upper brachial plexus sustains an injury such as stretching, compression, ripping, or being torn away from the spinal cord, the shoulder and arm may be directly affected to some degree depending on the severity. The types of injury, in order of the severity of their outcomes, include:
- Nerves are stretched, but not torn.
- Torn nerves are healed, but with scar tissue.
- Nerves are torn or ruptured and cannot heal.
- Nerves have ripped away from the spine.
These injuries can, at the very least, cause weakness, loss of mobility, or loss of sensation in the arm or elbow. The resulting condition is called Erb’s palsy, which occurs in 0.9 to 2.6 of every 1,000 live births according to the National Center for Biotechnical Information (NCBI).
HOW BRACHIAL PLEXUS INJURIES MAY HAPPEN
Brachial plexus injuries in newborns can stem from multiple scenarios. During delivery, as the infant’s shoulders move through the birth canal, the neck and head can pull to one side. In other situations, the baby’s shoulders may be stretched during the birthing process. In a breech (feet-first) delivery, pressure may be exerted on the infant’s raised arms.
In deliveries where the baby is larger than normal, the fetus presents breech, or the mother experiences prolonged labor, there is a higher risk of the type of difficult birth that may lead to a brachial plexus injury.
If, for example, the infant’s shoulder gets stuck inside the mother’s pelvis in a condition called “shoulder dystocia,” the physician may need to try various maneuvers to free the baby’s shoulder. Sometimes, if using a device such as forceps, the physician might use excessive force in pressing the baby’s shoulder down while their head stretches up and in the opposite direction. The consequential stretching can lead to brachial plexus damage.
THE ROLE THAT MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE MAY PLAY IN ERB’S PALSY
From the obstetrician to the delivery team, many medical professionals involved in monitoring, treating, and handling a pregnancy, labor, and delivery may have the opportunity to prevent certain risk factors for Erb’s palsy.
Medical negligence that may lead to Erb’s palsy can take many forms, including:
- The infant’s size was not properly estimated to evaluate risks that a larger baby poses in moving through the birth canal.
- Precautionary measures were not taken when the fetus was found to be in a breech position.
- Appropriate and timely action was not taken if the mother began to experience prolonged labor.
- The delivering doctor placed to much pressure on the baby’s head or neck.
- A member of the medical team did not accurately diagnose, or failed to treat potentially risky prenatal conditions.
- The team did not induce labor at an appropriate time.
- The delivery team neglected to perform an emergency C-section, or did not do so in a timely manner. Over 30 percent of all deliveries were done via C-section in 2018 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If the above steps are taken, Erb’s palsy may be preventable during the birthing process.
TREATMENT FOR ERB’S PALSY
Less severe cases of Erb’s palsy are treatable. Typically, treatment will involve early immobilization followed by a series of passive and active motion exercises. If a case is more severe and the baby does not show signs of recovery within five months, doctors may recommend surgery to better understand the damage and evaluate alternative methods of treatment.
Surgeries used to further diagnose and treat Erb’s palsy include:
- Neurolysis: use of physical or chemical agents to free scar tissue around a nerve.
- Nerve grafts: removing sections of nerves that have been damaged and replacing them with healthy nerves from somewhere else on the body
- Nerve transfer: connecting sections of healthy nerve to a “broken” nerve to facilitate new nerve growth (for occasions when the nerve root is torn from the spinal cord).
- Muscle transfer: replacing muscle that does not work with muscle from another body part.
The following diagnostic tests are commonly used in identifying the extent of damage done to the brachial plexus:
- Electromyography (EMG)
- Nerve conduction studies (NCS)
- Computerized tomography (CT) myelography
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
SEEKING COMPENSATION IF YOUR BABY’S ERB’S PALSY WAS PREVENTABLE
If you believe medical negligence led to a brachial plexus injury and your baby’s Erb’s palsy diagnosis, you may be entitled to compensation, including the costs of medical treatment, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.
Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 261-9292 for a free case consultation.