Common Birth Injuries
The most common birth injuries are the Erb’s palsy and the Klumpke’s palsy. These affect the upper and lower brachial plexus, which is aw chain of nerves responsible for sending signals from the spine to the nerves in the shoulders, arms and hands. According to the website of Pohl & Berk, birth injuries often occur when the delivery of the baby is forced too much – either using forceps or vacuum extraction – where the baby’s shoulders are impacted which results to these nerves being stretched or torn. They often manifest as limp or paralyzed arms, lack of sensation in the hand or arm, or lack of control in the muscles of the arm, hand or wrist. Erb’s palsy (Erb’s-Duchene palsy) occurs to the upper brachial plexus, while the Klumpke’s palsy (Dejerine-Klumpke’s palsy) occurs at the lower brachial plexus.
There are four general types of brachial plexus injuries, from the mild to the severe. The first one is the neuropraxia or stretch, the most common type of brachial plexus injury, where there is nerve damage yet they are not torn. Next is the neuroma where torn nerves have healed but the scar tissue hinders the injured nerves and prevents it from sending or receiving signals to the muscles. The third type is the rupture that happens when the torn nerves occur but is not at the spine. The last and most severe is the avulsion, where the nerves are torn away from the spinal attachment.
Some minor cases of brachial plexus injuries can heal within 3 to 4 months through physical treatment or sometimes surgery. The prognosis depends on the site where the injury occurred and the type of injury that happened. Severe cases need immediate surgery to reconnect the torn or stretched nerves, otherwise the recovery may not be possible. It is important to treat the injury immediately in order to regain control and movement and prevent further complications in the future.