Seattle Klumpke's Palsy Attorneys
Klumpke's palsy is a condition that stems directly from a birth injury. When the baby is in a difficult position in the birth canal, a bundle of nerves called the brachial plexus can easily become damaged. That bundle of nerves is located in the neck and spinal cord, and damage to the lower two brachial plexus nerves can result in Klumpke's palsy, which can cause paralysis in the hand and forearm.
It's important for parents to know that Klumpke's palsy is preventable, and that if their child is affected, they should contact a Seattle birth injury lawyer that can help them seek compensation for the additional medical expenses and pain and suffering that are a direct result of the birth injury.
The most common causes of Klumpke's palsy are:
- Baby becomes stuck in the birth canal during delivery
- Baby is in an usual position, such as breech, which is feet first
- Nerve damage, most often caused by shoulder dystocia when excessive force is used to remove the baby from the birth canal
- Baby is larger than average
- Mother is smaller than average
Klumpke's palsy occurs when the lower brachial plexus nerves are damaged. When the upper nerves are damaged, it could also cause Erb's palsy, a similar condition that affects the nerves higher on the body, causing paralysis in the shoulders and upper arms.
When children are born with even very minor damage done to the brachial plexus nerves, they may exhibit some symptoms of Klumpke's palsy. These symptoms, as well as the severity and length of them, may vary depending on the amount of damage that was done, and where that damage occurred within the brachial plexus. Some of the most common symptoms of Klumpke's palsy are:
- Muscle and nerve problems that often force hands into a claw-like shape
- Paralysis in the forearms, hands, or wrist flexors
- Numbness in the spinal area
- Droopy eyelids (ptosis)
- Narrowed pupils (miosis)
If any of these symptoms are noticed in the time shortly after birth, it's important that parents contact a Seattle personal injury attorney to help them with their case.
The treatment for Klumpke's palsy largely depends on how severely the nerves were damaged. Brachial plexus injuries are divided into four categories, and the treatment needed will depend on which category an injury falls into.
- Neuropraxiaor stretch. This is the most common type of brachial plexus injury, and occurs when there is minor damage to the nerves. In most cases it repairs itself without treatment.
- Neuroma. This is when the nerves have been torn and have healed, but scar tissue from recovery places additional pressure on the nerves. This interferes with the signals the nerves send to the muscles, but in some cases this type of injury will heal on its own. In other cases, minor treatment may be necessary.
- Rupture. This is a more severe injury and occurs when the nerve has been torn, but has not been completely dislodged from the spine. Surgery must be performed quickly after birth in order to properly treat it.
- Avulsion. This is the most severe type of brachial plexus injury and occurs when the nerve has been torn directly from the spine. Often there is no treatment for this injury, although surgery immediately after birth may help lessen symptoms and treat the condition.
Like many other medical conditions, the best treatment for Klumpke's palsy is prevention, as it is a highly preventable injury. It's not uncommon for the condition to be caused by negligence on the part of the doctor, nurse, or midwife during delivery. The journey through the birth canal is a difficult but delicate one and if the baby's head is pulled, causing the shoulder, neck and upper back to stretch, it can easily damage the delicate nerves in the neck and spine.
Becoming a parent should be one of the most exciting times in anyone's life, and it can be devastating when negligence interferes with the celebration. If you've recently had a baby that's been born with Klumpke's palsy, or you know someone who has, call us at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. toll-free at (888) 228-3860. We are the Seattle birth injury lawyers that bring the medical malpractice knowledge and experience you need to protect your rights and get you the compensation you may deserve.
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