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Who Is at Risk of a Brachial Plexus Injury?

On Behalf of | Sep 21, 2016 | Spinal Cord Injury

By Pendergast Law on September 21, 2016

A brachial plexus injury is an injury that occurs to the network of nerves that are connected to the spinal cord and send signals from the spinal cord to the arm, hand, and shoulder. Signs of a brachial plexus injury include weakness in the arm, slow reflexes, lack of muscle control, decreased sensation, and ultimately paralysis. While some injuries recover on their own, others require physical therapy, splinting, and even surgery. If the injury is caused through negligence, such as doctor malpractice or a negligent driver, that individual will be liable for the damages suffered by the victim. Both adults and children are at risk of a brachial plexus injury, though the cause of the injury varies by age.


Approximately 1.2% of adults have or have had a brachial plexus injury. 89% of sufferers are males, and 50% of sufferers are young adults between nineteen and thirty-fours years old. The most common cause of a brachial plexus injury in adults  is an accident. Anywhere from 44 to 70% of injuries are caused by car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, athletic injuries, and workplace accidents.


Brachial plexus injuries are more commonly seen in children during childbirth. During pregnancy, many infants rotate in utero, causing difficulties during the birthing process. Often, physicians need to use forceps or force to assist the mother with birth. This can cause a brachial plexus injury when the shoulder or arm is injured in the process. Other causes included heavier infants that cause difficulty during birth, the use of a vacuum to assist with delivery, and glucose intolerance.

Many of these injuries result in Erb’s palsy in which the arm does not have full range of function. For example, it may hang limply by the child’s side, may not be able to be raised, and/or may lack flexibility. Erb’s palsy is not a muscular injury. It is a nerve injury. Therefore, any subsequent treatment must be treat the underlying spinal and nerve damage. With Erb’s palsy, on top of the other common methods of treatment, many doctors attempt nerve transfers, cutting the muscle to increase flexibility, and rotating the muscle and attaching it to the biceps.

Consult with Seattle Personal Injury Attorneys Today about Medical Malpractice

If you or a loved one fell victim to a spinal cord injury due to medical malpractice, the experienced Seattle spinal cord injury attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. can assist you with pursuing compensation for the damage caused by the physician’s negligence. Call us today to schedule a free case evaluation at 888-539-9211.