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When parents receive the devastating news that their child has been diagnosed with something called brachial plexus birth palsy — or BPBP– their minds are understandably flooded with a host of questions: What is BPBP? How did it happen? What does this mean for my child? Can it be treated?
In recognition of this reality, our blog will be publishing a series of posts designed to shed some much-needed light on a condition that affects roughly one to two of every 1,000 babies born here in the U.S.
Where is the brachial plexus and what functions does it perform?
The brachial plexus is a complex network of nerves running from near the neck, behind the clavicle (i.e., collarbone) and down into the arm. Together, these nerves supply the arm, hand, wrist and fingers with feeling, and enable them to move fluidly.
What is brachial plexus birth palsy (BPBP)?
When a child is diagnosed with BPBP at birth, it is typically means their head and/or neck was stretched excessively to one side during the course of the delivery, resulting in a weakness, loss of sensation and loss of motion in the arm.
If it’s the upper nerves of the brachial plexus that were harmed during the course of the delivery — the most common scenario — then it’s likely the child has a form of BPBP referred to as Erb’s palsy. In these scenarios, the child will likely experience weakness, loss of sensation or loss of motion in the shoulder.
If it’s the upper nerves and the lower nerves of the brachial plexus that were harmed during the course of the delivery, then it’s likely the child has a condition referred to simply as global BPBP. In these scenarios, the child will likely experience weakness, loss of sensation or loss of motion beyond the shoulder, including down through the arm.
We’ll continue to explore this very important issue in future posts. In the meantime, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your options if you believe that your child suffered a serious birth injury as a direct result of medical malpractice.
Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “Erb’s Palsy (Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy),” Dec. 2010; Boston Children’s Hospital, ” Brachial plexus birth palsy: In depth,” Sept. 2014