Klumpke paralysis: symptoms and prognosis

Parents in Washington should be aware of the birth injuries that their newborn might fall victim to. One of the rarest is called Klumpke paralysis and involves an injury to a child's brachial plexus, a system of nerves located in the shoulder. The nerves could be stretched, scarred or torn. There are two types of tears: avulsions when they occur at the spine, and ruptures when they arise anywhere else.

The most common cause of Klumpke paralysis is a difficult delivery. As its name implies, it can lead to loss of movement or weakness, usually in the lower arm and the hand. Another symptom, though rare, is the drooping of the baby's eyelid on the side of the face that's opposite to the injury.

When avulsions and ruptures occur, babies must undergo a surgical reconnection procedure. Those with the more minor stretch injury, neuropraxia, can recover spontaneously and regain 90% to 100% function in their hand and arm. Eighty-eight percent of infants recover within four months, but it all depends on how quickly the condition is diagnosed and treated.

Physical examinations at birth can usually detect the injury, though X-rays may be needed to determine the extent of the nerve damage. Only in some cases will Klumpke paralysis lead to permanent damage.

Those who believe that their child's birth injuries were caused by the negligence of doctors or nurses may be able to file a claim. It may be wise, though, to see a lawyer who works in the field of medical malpractice law because filing such a claim alone can be difficult. The lawyer might hire third parties to investigate just what happened during the delivery process and how the other side failed to live up to an objective standard of care. The lawyer may then handle settlement negotiations.

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