Brachial Plexus Childbirth Injuries

Monday, November 16th, 2020

Birth trauma refers to damage of the tissues and organs of a newborn baby. Although many newborns might have minor injuries during birth, sometimes the injuries are more severe and include serious nerve damage.  Brachial plexus birth injuries refers to damage to the brachial plexus nerves that occurs at birth, and may be related to a difficult labor and delivery.

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that begins at the spinal cord in the neck and delivers messages from the brain to the shoulder, arm and hand.  These nerves control muscle function in the chest, shoulders, arms and hands, as well as sensation in the upper limbs. A brachial plexus birth injury occurs when the baby’s neck is stretched, compressed, or awkwardly twisted. A quick or emergency delivery resulting in the baby being forcibly pulled out can result in a brachial plexus injury.  The nerves may stretch or tear during a traumatic delivery. Although nerves have some ability to heal on their own, it depends on the severity of the damage.

The most common type of brachial plexus injury is called Erb’s palsy. Babies with a brachial plexus injury may have difficulty moving their arm or lack feeling in their arm. Damaged nerves may result in symptoms from minor weakness to partial or complete paralysis depending on the severity of the injury. A less common injury that affects the lower brachial plexus is called Klumpke’s palsy. This typically affects only the muscles in the hand and is not common in babies.

Four types of brachial plexus nerve injuries

  1. Neuropraxia – This is a stretch injury and is the most common. The nerve is stretched but not torn. These injuries will typically heal on their own in time.
  2. Neuroma – This is a more serious stretch injury that damages nerve fibers and results in scar tissue. The scar tissue may press on the healthy nerve and create discomfort. Long-term recovery is typically only partial, not complete.  
  3. Rupture – This a stretch injury that tears or ruptures the nerve. This type of injury will not heal on its own. Surgery is required to re-attach the nerves.
  4. Avulsion – This type of injury is the most severe type of nerve damage and occurs when the nerve fiber is torn from the spinal cord.

For severe brachial plexus injuries, prompt surgical treatment might be needed to attempt to regain function.  Without it, permanent disability may occur. In the most severe cases, the damage may be permanent. Chronic pain can also be a long-term result of a brachial plexus injury.

Erb’s Palsy birth injury

Erb’s palsy may occur during delivery when excessive pressure is put on the baby’s head, neck or shoulder because of difficulty delivering. The symptoms of brachial plexus injury can vary based on severity and extent of damage. Erb’s palsy is the result of the upper brachial plexus being paralyzed. The risk of a baby developing Erb’s palsy is greatly increased if they develop shoulder dystocia during delivery. Shoulder dystocia is a condition where the baby comes through the birth canal at an awkward angle and a shoulder becomes stuck on the mother’s pelvis. Erb’s palsy can include paralysis or limpness in a baby’s arm, limited or no movement in hands and fingers, and loss of sensation in hands and fingers.

Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy

  • Weakness or numbness in arm.
  • Limited motion in the shoulder, arm, wrist or hand.
  • Arm hanging by side and rotated inward.
  • Partial or total paralysis of the arm.

Potential Causes of Erb’s Palsy / Brachial Plexus Injuries

As we mentioned above, brachial plexus nerve injuries typically occur with traumatic or difficult deliveries. This may include a large baby, a breech birth or prolonged labor. A doctor delivering quickly may use excessive force to pull the baby from the birth canal resulting in a stretching of the baby’s neck. This can also result from excessive pulling on the shoulders during a head-first delivery, or by pressure on the infant’s raised arms during a feet-first delivery. Risk factors associated with brachial plexus injuries include improper use of birthing or extraction tools, prolonged labor, breech delivery, large baby, small or abnormal maternal pelvis shape or excessive maternal weight gain.

A baby’s arm that is limp can usually indicate a brachial plexus injury. Proper diagnosis requires a complete neurological exam to determine which nerves have been impacted and the severity of the injury. Treatment may include anything from physical therapy to improve movement in the muscles and nerves or occupational therapy to improve joint function and muscle tone to surgery in the most severe cases.

Brachial Plexus injuries during childbirth

The main cause of Erb’s palsy is damage to the nerves during childbirth. Brachial plexus injuries are avoidable. An obstetrician must proceed with extreme caution when risk factors are present during delivery. For instance, failure to recognize that a caesarean section should have been performed due to the baby’s size, use of excessive force or pressure on the baby’s head, neck, or shoulder during delivery, or improper use of delivery instruments, such as forceps or vacuum extractors, may indicate an error on the part of the doctor.

Often, Erb’s Palsy injuries are the result of preventable medical errors during delivery. Medical professionals have a duty to ensure you and your baby are provided a certain standard of care. Birth injuries may come with lifelong limitations for your child, crippling medical costs, and lasting emotional stress. If your infant has suffered a brachial plexus injury or has been diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy that you believe may have been caused by medical negligence, you should consult with an experienced birth injury attorney to explore your options and help recover compensation for your child’s injuries. The Distasio & Kowalski birth injury attorneys have seen the toll birth injuries can take on a family and we are here to help.

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Michael J. Kowalski selected as one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® for 2020

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

Michael J. Kowalski, a partner in the personal injury firm of Distasio & Kowalski, LLC, was recently selected among America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® for 2020. Kowalski was selected for excellence in medical malpractice litigation and personal injury litigation.

Selection to America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® is by invitation only. It is limited to the Top 100 professionals from each state in each category of practice who best exhibit excellence and the highest ethical standards in their respective professions. This honor is meant to identify and highlight the accomplishments of the nation’s most esteemed and skilled litigators in high stakes legal matters. Less than 1% of professionals in the United States are selected for America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators®.

To be considered, an attorney must have litigated a matter with at least $2,000,000 in alleged damages at stake or with the fate of a business worth at least $2,000,000 at stake. A multi-phase selection process includes third-party research and statistical analysis of a candidate’s professional experience, achievements, significant results, community impact, peer reputation, consumer satisfaction, and other factors specific to the profession. The selection process ensures that attorneys selected for this honor reflect the highest ideals and ethical standards of the legal profession.

Located in Wilkes-Barre, PA, Distasio & Kowalski LLC, specializes in cases involving Medical Malpractice, Birth Injury, Auto & Truck Accidents, Personal Injury, and Wrongful Death.

For more information on Distasio & Kowalski LLC, please visit www.dklawllc.com or call 570-970-5400.

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Michael J. Kowalski Recognized in Best Lawyers in America©

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

Michael J. Kowalski, a partner in the Wilkes-Barre personal injury law firm of Distasio & Kowalski, LLC, has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© for 2021. This is Attorney Kowalski’s third year for inclusion in the publication. He was recognized for his work in the areas of medical malpractice law and personal injury litigation.

Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Although the scope of the publication has dramatically grown, the core mission of Best Lawyers to highlight the top legal talent in America has remained the same.  The Best Lawyers in America rankings are based solely on peer-review surveys in which tens of thousands of attorneys confidentially evaluate their colleagues. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.” Attorneys named to The Best Lawyers in America were recognized by their peers in the legal industry for their professional excellence in 145 practice areas.

Distasio & Kowalski LLC specializes in birth injury, medical malpractice, auto & truck accidents, personal injury, and wrongful death. For more information on Distasio & Kowalski LLC, please visit dklawllc.com or call 570-970-5400.  

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Distasio & Kowalski named 2020 PA Super Lawyers

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

Attorneys Daniel J. Distasio and Michael J. Kowalski, partners in Distasio & Kowalski, LLC personal injury firm, have been named Pennsylvania Super Lawyers for the 12th consecutive year. Both have been top-rated in the category of Personal Injury Attorney.

“We are honored to have been selected by our peers for this recognition and named among the best personal injury attorneys in the state,” commented Daniel Distasio and Michael Kowalski. “Our priority has always been to provide each of our clients with the most professional, ethical, and compassionate legal representation possible.”

Super Lawyers rates lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high level of peer recognition and professional achievement. Each year, no more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state receive this honor, which is bestowed by Super Lawyers magazine. The annual selections are made using a multiphase process. This includes nominations, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews, and evaluation by practice area. Attorneys are evaluated based on peer recognition and achievements. This includes verdicts/settlements,  representative clients, experience, honors/awards, pro bono and community service, and other outstanding achievements among other criteria.

Distasio & Kowalski LLC, located in Wilkes-Barre, specializes in Auto & Truck Accidents, Medical Malpractice, Birth Injury, Personal Injury, and Wrongful Death.

For more information on Distasio & Kowalski LLC, please visit www.dklawllc.com or call 570-970-5400.

 

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Maintaining Your Well-Being During Social Distancing

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

Social distancing has been strongly encouraged to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We’ve all heard it over and over again for weeks. For many of us, it means time spent at home. Some may be working from home; others may have been laid off due to business disruption, while some may be taking time off to care for children who are home from school. Whatever the reason, you may be feeling a bit stressed and possibly even frightened.

During this time, you should be concentrating on staying healthy, both physically and mentally, and keeping a positive attitude. While you might be tempted to sit around, watch TV, eat junk food and stress, it might not be the healthiest choice for you. Here are some suggestions for keeping your sanity during social distancing.

Ten tips for staying positive and maintaining your well-being while at home

  1. Keep physically active. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you can’t go outside and enjoy nature. Spring is finally here, so get out and get some fresh air. Go for a walk or bike ride, play catch with your kids, take your dog for a hike, or just enjoy a quiet at-home workout. Many local fitness centers are live-streaming free workouts at various times throughout the day. If you’d prefer, just pull out your mat and do some yoga. Do whatever you most enjoy, just stay active.
  2. Give your mind a workout. Read a book or sign up for an online class or seminar. There are often many free seminars you can find that will provide a great learning experience. Perhaps you’ve been eager to learn a new software program or even a new language.
  3. Test some healthy recipes. Most of us eat when we’re bored or stressed. It’s a great time to try some new recipes and focus on incorporating some healthier foods into your diet. You can find just about any type of recipe you’d like with a quick online search, including recipes you can make with your kids.
  4. Maintain your social connections. If you’re feeling isolated, don’t be afraid to call a friend. If you’re used to the social aspect of a large office, you might be feeling Keep us those connections with phone calls or Facetime with friends and co-workers. Have you heard about Facebook Watch Party? It’s a feature on Facebook that allows admins to hold a live screening of pre-recorded videos that are publicly available on Facebook. Group members can all watch and comment on the videos at the same time to create a shared viewing experience.
  5. Start an online book club with friends. This is another great way to stay connected to others during social distancing. Read a book and then share your thoughts in an online chat.
  6. Take a virtual tour of a museum. Believe it or not, this is a thing. Here is just a sampling of the many virtual museum tours you can take from the comfort of your own home: The Louvre, The National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel among many others.
  7. Try Yoga or Meditation. Maybe you’ve been wanting to give yoga or meditation a try but just haven’t had time. Well, now you do. Search online and you’re sure to find free videos and instructions.
  8. Tackle some items on your to-do list. We’ve all got a to-do list. Maybe it’s cleaning out your basement, organizing your closets, painting your kitchen or spring cleaning your yard. Whatever the chore, imagine the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when it’s done. Tackle it as a family.
  9. Check on an elderly neighbor or relative. They are probably lonely and afraid. Pick up your phone and check on them. Perhaps they need groceries or some other type of help. Helping someone else will make you feel a lot better.
  10. Enjoy this quality time with your kids and loved ones. We realize it’s a scary time, but it doesn’t mean you can’t relax and enjoy this extra time you have with your family

Remember, getting to spend an extended amount of time at home isn’t the worst thing in the world. We’re sure there were times in your life you were so busy that you longed for the peace and solitude of some quiet time alone at home. Now you have it. Try to maintain a positive attitude and take advantage of this time to do the things you enjoy and that make you happy. Stay safe and stay healthy.

 

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