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A brachial plexus injury can impact infants

Birth injuries are often unpredictable, with many happening during the birthing process. Some birth injuries occur in the womb, while others happen in the days following birth.

For the most part, there are minor injuries from which babies commonly suffer. Things like bruising or small hematomas are somewhat benign and normal consequences from the trauma of being born. Other injuries, like damage to the brachial plexus, may be a result of medical errors.

What is the brachial plexus?

The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that travel from the neck down through the arm. Babies who have their brachial plexus damaged may have poor motor control in the arm, be in pain or show signs of signficant weakness. When the head and neck are forced in opposite directions, like what happens during some births, the baby may lose function in the affected arm. Sometimes, this injury recovers quickly. Other times, it's a life-long injury requiring medical care and intervention.

Is therapy recommended in patients with brachial plexus injuries?

Yes, in most cases. While it can be hard to provide any significant therapy to an infant, keeping the muscles moving is vital to recovery. In severe cases, there are surgeries that can be performed to help with recovery, though most won't be performed until a child is older.

This is just one kind of injury that can happen during birth. It can be avoided if medical providers take their time and help ease the baby through the birth canal. Trapped shoulders and particularly difficult births increase the risk of this condition.

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