Wisconsin Brachial Plexus Injury Attorneys

representing victims of medical malpractice

Working with us on Brachial Plexus Injury Cases

A brachial plexus injury due to a difficult birth is one of the most common injuries to a newborn infant during the childbirth process, occurring in 1-4 of every 1,000 births.

The brachial plexus is the network of nerves that sends signals from your spine to your shoulder, arm and hand. A brachial plexus injury occurs when these nerves are stretched or, in the most serious cases, torn.  A brachial plexus injury is most often attributed to situations where the baby’s shoulder is stopped by the pubic bone (“shoulder dystocia”) during delivery. It can also be caused by extreme force being applied through the pulling of a newborn’s arm or head during birth. In the case of a breech delivery, pressure on raised shoulders can also bring about this birth injury. The extent of the injury may range from a simple mild stretch injury up to and including avulsion (separation) of the nerves from the spinal cord.

Birth Injury in Wisconsin

In most cases of brachial plexus birth palsy, it is the upper nerves that are affected. This is known as Erb’s palsy. The infant may not be able to move the shoulder, but may be able to move the fingers. If both the upper and lower nerves are stretched, the condition is usually more severe than Erb’s palsy. This is called a “global,” or total, brachial plexus birth palsy.

If any of the following risk factors are present, the child is delivered vaginally, and has a brachial plexus injury, the doctor may be liable.  Do not wait to contact our birth injury lawyers if your child was born with a brachial plexus and you believe that it could have been prevented.

Risk Factors

  • Shoulder dystocia (the baby’s shoulder being restricted on the mother’s pelvis)
  • Maternal diabetes
  • Large gestational size
  • Difficult delivery needing external assistance
  • Prolonged labor
  • Breech presentation at birth


  • Arm flexed at elbow and held against the body
  • Decreased grip on the affected side
  • Absent Moro reflex on the affected side
  • Lack of spontaneous movement in the upper or lower arm or hand

Treatment for Brachial Plexus Injuries

As baby’s body can be quite resilient and many infants can recover from a brachial plexus injury, depending on the severity of the original incident. For some, the injury does not recover and surgery is required.  Nonsurgical treatment is also important.  Occupational and physical therapy is often recommended and may include range of motion, strengthening, neuromuscular electrical simulation, joint mobilization, and aquatic therapy.  Despite the best treatment, in some cases, the injury may never be fully repaired.

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