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Brachial plexus injuries may be prevented

As some California parents may know, brachial plexus injuries may happen during childbirth. As the child moves through the birth canal, his or her shoulders become trapped, and the effort used to free them might cause a brachial plexus injury that may interfere with nerve signals from the spinal cord to the shoulder, arm and hand. While minor brachial plexus injuries may resolve with time, injuries that are more serious might require surgery.

The brachial plexus is a collection of nerves originating in the neck. The nerves are subdivided into primary nerves or trunks and smaller ones or cords. One classification of Erb's palsy uses the severity of the injury as a marker. If a stretch injury occurs, trunks and cords of the nerves are stretched. If the nerve sheath remains intact, stretching may cause neuropraxia, which is a temporary loss of sensory and motor function. As the nerve swelling decreases, function returns.

If the nerves are stretched too far, they might rupture. The rupture injury may be whole or partial, and the severity is based on the extent. If the nerve sheath is not torn, chances are the nerves may repair. When the nerves attempt to regrow, a growth of nerve tissue may form. A complete rupture rarely results in nerve healing and renewed transmission.

When avulsion injury occurs, the interruption of nerve signals is severe, and this type of injury is the most serious. The lower limb is also affected and fails to move, and the injury usually results from extreme pulling. When permanent damage occurs, an attorney may help the parents file a malpractice claim to recover the expense of extended medical care. Source: Mayo Clinic, 'Brachial plexus injury," 2014 http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/brachial-plexus-injury/basics/causes/con-20028265

Source: BirthInjury.org, "Types of Brachial Plexus Injuries", October 01, 2014

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