Klumpke’s Palsy

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Klumpke’s palsy as a birth injury refers to a condition that occurs when the lower nerves of the brachial plexus are damaged during childbirth. This part of the brachial plexus primarily affects the muscles of the forearm and hand, and damage can occur under specific circumstances during delivery. Here’s an overview of Klumpke’s palsy as a birth injury:

Causes of Klumpke’s palsy

Difficult childbirth is a major risk factor for infants. The condition can occur if there is an abnormal birth presentation, such as breech, or during a prolonged or complicated labor where excessive force is applied to the baby’s arm while the head is pushed in the opposite direction.

Specific factors include:

  • Abnormal Birth Position: Such as breech presentation, where the baby is positioned feet or buttocks first.
  • High Birth Weight: Larger babies are at greater risk because they fit more tightly in the birth canal, which can lead to more significant strain during delivery.
  • Forceful Delivery: Excessive pulling on the baby’s arms during a head-first delivery or pulling the baby’s legs in a breech delivery can stretch or tear the brachial plexus nerves.

Symptoms of Klumpke’s palsy

Symptoms of Klumpke’s palsy in infants include:

  • Weakness or Paralysis: The baby may not be able to move the affected hand or forearm.
  • Claw-like Hand: The hand may appear limp or claw-like due to muscle weakness.
  • Horner’s Syndrome: Occasionally, the injury may involve symptoms such as a drooping eyelid and smaller pupil on the affected side.

Outlook for babies with Klumpke’s palsy

For babies who develop Klumpke’s palsy as a birth injury, the long-term consequences can vary significantly based on the extent of the nerve damage and the effectiveness of treatment. Here are some of the potential long-term outcomes for babies affected by Klumpke’s palsy:

  • Persistent Weakness or Paralysis: Babies with severe nerve damage may experience ongoing weakness or paralysis in the affected hand and forearm, which could continue into adulthood if not adequately treated.
  • Muscle Atrophy: Due to the lack of nerve stimulation, the muscles in the affected arm may not develop properly, leading to muscle atrophy and reduced muscle mass.
  • Joint Stiffness and Contractures: Limited movement can lead to stiffness in the joints of the wrist and fingers. Over time, this can progress to contractures, where the joints become fixed in a bent position, severely limiting hand function.
  • Motor Skill Delays: Developmental delays in motor skills are common, especially if the affected hand is the dominant one. This can affect a child’s ability to learn tasks that require fine motor skills, such as holding a pencil, tying shoes, or buttoning clothes.
  • Chronic Pain: Some children might experience chronic pain related to nerve damage, which can be challenging to manage and affect quality of life.
  • Psychological and Social Impact: Growing up with a physical disability can affect a child’s self-esteem and social interactions. They might feel self-conscious about their appearance or capabilities, which can impact their psychological development and social relationships.
  • Educational and Career Challenges: Physical limitations might affect educational opportunities and career choices, especially in fields requiring fine motor skills or manual dexterity.

Contact Gray and White Today

If you’ve been impacted by Klumpke’s palsy as a result of medical negligence, get in touch with us today. Call (502) 210-8942 or fill out our online form to request a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.