What is brachial plexus, and how is it caused?

On Behalf of | Aug 22, 2022 | Birth Injuries |

West Virginia parents never expect to learn that their child has suffered a birth injury. However, they happen. Injuries to the brachial plexus can sometimes affect newborns.

Brachial plexus injury explained

A brachial plexus injury is a birth injury that affects the network of nerves and muscles in the neck, shoulder, arms, hands and fingers. Babies can develop this type of injury when they are born breech, when their shoulders are too wide to fit through the birth canal, when they are 8 pounds or heavier or when the mother has an extensively long labor.

There are different types of brachial plexus injuries depending on which nerves are affected. Brachial plexus birth palsy and Erb’s palsy are two of the most common. However, what all types of this injury share in common are that they start when the infant’s neck becomes stretched to one side. This spreads out to the nerves and can continue into the arm, hand and fingers. These injuries can cause poor sensation and weak muscle movements.

Symptoms of a brachial plexus injury

When a child has developed a brachial plexus injury, there are noticeable symptoms. They may have numbness in the affected area and a weakened grip. There is also a limited range of motion in the shoulder and elbow. Sometimes, the child cannot move these areas at all.

Children afflicted by a brachial plexus injury often hold their arm in a strange position. For example, parents might observe that their child bends their arm toward their body or that the child’s arm hangs limply.

Although this injury often resolves on its own over time if it’s mild, some children may require physical or occupational therapy to recover. A severe brachial plexus injury may require more invasive treatment.