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Birth injury » Brachial plexus injury


A birth injury affecting the nerves in the brachial plexus network is extremely common in newborn babies. The brachial plexus network sends messages from the spine to the shoulder, arm and hand so that they can move and respond to impulses like heat. When this network is impaired, mobility and sensory abilities can be affected and in the worst cases, paralysis can occur.

There are three significant types of injury to this network that are the best known. Klumpkes Palsy is where the seventh and eight cervical and first thoracic nerves become paralysed. Erbs Palsy is a paralysis of the fifth and sixth cranial nerves and complete brachial plexus palsy affects all five nerves resulting in arm paralysis.

Brachial plexus injuries can be the result of avulsion, rupture, neuroma or neuropraxia. Avulsion means the nerve has been torn from the spine; rupture is when the nerve is torn but not at the point where it attaches to the spine; neuroma means that the nerve has tried to heal but scar tissue has appeared; neuropraxia is when the nerve is damaged but not torn.

A brachial plexus injury could be the result of medical negligence at birth where the babys shoulders have been impacted through the use of forceps and, in turn, the brachial plexus nerves have been stretched and torn.

Symptoms and diagnosis of brachial plexus

Lack of muscle control and a loss of sensation or strength in the arm, hand or wrist are common symptoms. Intense pain is often felt from the neck down to the arm and people with a brachial plexus injury sometimes report feeling pins and needles.

Diagnosis can be made through examination of the head, neck, shoulder, arm and hand along with X-rays, which may be taken to ensure there isnt any damage to the vertebrae.

Treatment and recovery

Many babies recover by 3-4 months as nerves grow at a rate of about one inch a month and some mild brachial plexus injuries heal completely on their own.

The healing process starts from the shoulder muscles, then the arm and finally reaches the hand. Physiotherapy and/or gentle manipulation of this part of the body is normally required during this time. More serious injuries occasionally require surgery.

Making a birth injury compensation claim

While nerve damage and temporary paralysis from brachial plexus birth injuries usually heal with time, parents may feel that their baby has suffered unnecessarily or has been subject to medical negligence and may wish to pursue a compensation claim.

We will deal sympathetically with your case as we are experts in dealing with personal injury compensation claims of this kind. We also work on a no win no fee basis and guarantee that you will receive every penny of compensation awarded to you.

Call us now on 01582 437070 and we will take you step-by-step through the claims process and inform you of how you can make a birth injury compensation claim today.