October 16-22 marked national Brachial Plexus Awareness Week. In honor of this worthy cause, we offer this post all about support options for brachial plexus injury victims. We hope this article will help families touched by brachial plexus injuries be empowered and know that support is available. Birth injuries are never easy to deal with, but they do not have to take away hope for a full, high quality life.
Brachial Plexus Injury Information
Brachial plexus injuries occur in roughly 2-5 out of every 1,000 births. It is considered one of the most common obstetrical birth injuries, with more of these injuries sustained than conditions like Muscular Dystrophy or Down Syndrome.
To understand the significance of a brachial plexus injury, it is important to understand exactly what the injury entails. The brachial plexus is one network of nerves running between the neck and spinal column and down to the fingers. This network affects muscles from the fingertips to the elbow to the shoulder. The brachial plexus may be injured in the following ways:
- Avulsion (being pulled from the spinal socket)
Common causes of brachial plexus injuries may include:
- Breech delivery
- Large infant size or weight
- Improper use of birthing tools
- Excessive force during delivery
- Infant’s shoulders becoming lodged in the birth canal
- Failure to order a cesarean section in a timely manner
If you have experienced any of these complications of labor and delivery, and your child has been diagnosed with a brachial plexus injury, you may find it helpful to speak to a birth injury attorney.
Contact us to learn more about compensation you may qualify for if you have been injured due to negligence related to labor and delivery. It will cost you $0.
Life with a Brachial Plexus Injury
Individuals suffering a brachial plexus injury will likely notice limited use and mobility of their shoulder, affected arm and hand. While this can certainly be frustrating, it does not have to limit the individual’s quality of life. Many people with these injuries are able to be creative, athletic, educated, and overall live healthy, productive lives.
Recently, a Haynesville, Louisiana girl was featured in a news story in an effort to raise awareness of brachial plexus injuries, and the power of determination and a supportive environment. Now 13, Allie Gray suffered from a broken collar bone and brachial plexus injury during birth, and has since undergone a dozen surgeries. Despite her injuries, and what many would consider limitations, Allie is excelling at archery using her unaffected hand and teeth to work the bow and arrow.
Allie’s family and coach praise her determination and strength. Her parents also encourage other parents going through something similar to be determined, proactive, and persistent as they manage their child’s care and consider treatment options.
Brachial Plexus Injury Support
Parents dealing with a birth injury like a brachial plexus injury may feel at a loss for how or why they are in such a situation. While it can be easy to become discouraged as your infant or child works around an injury, you can take heart that there is support for your family.
In terms of financial support, parents may have the option of applying for Social Security Income (SSI) benefits, which can help cover the cost of medical expenses and daily care. SSI benefits is dependent on your individual situation, the disability claimed, and your income. If your situation changes down the road, so might your eligibility for SSI, or the amount you receive.
If your child’s injury was caused by negligent medical care during labor and delivery, then you may further have the option of pursuing a birth injury lawsuit to compensate you for the injuries, financial losses, and cost of caring for a child with a brachial plexus injury.
Hope, Inspiration, and Parental Support
The United Brachial Plexus Network (UBPN) offers parents a variety of supportive resources, including informative materials, forums, camps, and education. They also provide information about ongoing research and treatment strategies, and may provide assistance to certain families. The UBPN is one of the organizations most focused on supporting families and improving quality of life for individuals with brachial plexus injuries.
Life Care Plan
Parents may also find it helpful to create a life care plan for their child. This plan includes a detailed account of the injury, related expenses, and anticipated costs for future treatment or daily living. Life care plans are generally drafted by an attorney with the help of medical experts, financial counselors, and other professionals as applicable. These plans can be extremely helpful for parents who need additional financial support, such as SSI, to keep track of their expenses.
Many families who have experienced a birth injury also find it helpful to contact a birth injury attorney to ensure that their legal rights are protected. While sometimes injuries are unavoidable, many other times, birth injuries like brachial plexus injuries are completely preventable. Situations arising that may cause such preventable injuries may include:
- Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose maternal or fetal conditions
- Failure to order a c-section in a timely manner
- Improper use of delivery tools, such as forceps or vacuums
- Use of excessive force during labor or delivery
- Failure to monitor vital signs or recognize fetal distress
- Errors involving medications prescribed to the expectant mother
These are just some examples of situations that are preventable, and in most cases, are a violation of your legal rights.
Learn More about Your Rights
If you feel that you or your child has been injured due to negligent healthcare, contact us today to learn more about your rights. Our attorneys are knowledgeable about the complexities of brachial plexus injury cases, and we are poised to fight for your rights, and the well being of your family.