Recent News

Understanding Different Types of Paralysis Resulting from Birth Injuries

Need Your Specific Questions Answered?

We're here to discuss your child's unique case anytime.

You may hear about paralysis in the context of strokes and spinal cord injuries that leave victims immobile. However, birth injuries can also lead to temporary, permanent, partial, or complete paralysis. Various labor and delivery complications, such as prolonged labor, prolapsed umbilical cords, cephalopelvic disproportion, and improper use of birth-assistance instruments, may cause brain, spinal cord, and neurological damage, leaving a baby paralyzed.

The General Definition of Paralysis

Paralysis from birth complications can cause a complete or partial loss of a newborn’s muscle control over specific body parts. Lost muscle strength or control occurs when the nerves connecting the brain to areas of the body are damaged or disrupted. When that happens, the muscles do not receive the neurological signals that make them move. Paralysis is the inability to produce voluntary muscle movement.

Partial vs. Complete and Temporary vs. Permanent Paralysis

Paralysis affects different body areas to varying degrees. For instance, complete and permanent paralysis in a baby’s arm means the muscles are immovable, and the limb will never move. Fortunately, an infant’s paralysis may be temporary. Partial and temporary paralysis is hopeful because the muscle group is not immobile, and muscle control may return. Their muscle control may spontaneously recover quickly or over several weeks or months.

Other babies may need physical therapy and exercise to retrain other muscles to compensate for lost function in different body areas or strengthen weak muscles. However, severed nerves or conditions like cerebral palsy may be permanent, requiring years of various therapies and adaptive devices to move, communicate, learn, and accomplish routine tasks like grooming and hygiene. Temporary or lifelong treatment or equipment is incredibly costly.

Main Types of Paralysis Resulting from Difficult Birth

The muscles affected also determine the paralysis type. Monoplegia affects a single body region. Someone with monoplegia may not be able to move or feel sensations in a leg or arm. The rest of their body is unaffected. Babies injured by oxygen deprivation during birth may develop cerebral palsy, the main contributor to monoplegia. Nerve and brain damage during birth also causes this type of paralysis, either temporarily or permanently.

Another type of paralysis, hemiplegia, affects the entire body. A newborn with this condition may have trouble moving their right arm and leg. They may suffer muscle weakness that grows with time until they have complete paralysis. Each case varies in degree, depending on the cause of the paralysis and other health conditions, and it may be temporary, mainly when treatment occurs early. Brain injury and cerebral palsy typically cause hemiplegia.

Diplegia is also associated with cerebral palsy. When both sides of the body are symmetrically affected with paralysis in some areas, such as the limbs or side of the face, the baby has diplegia.

Immovability in both legs and possibly the trunk indicates paraplegia. The degree of sensation loss and ability to move any body parts below the waist varies from person to person. Unfortunately, the chances of recovery without treatment or natural nerve regeneration are low. With physical therapy, a baby may recover some functioning as neurological connections regenerate with training the brain to compensate for the movement loss. Spinal cord damage is the most common reason for it, but brain damage from oxygen deprivation can also cause paraplegia.

Finally, quadriplegia is paralysis in all limbs or the entire body from the neck down in the worst cases. Quadriplegics have varying degrees of movement or function of their body parts below the neck and can regain some movement or functioning with physical therapy. The causes are paraplegia, spinal cord injury, and brain injury. The condition may be temporary, though often it is not.

Common Conditions that Cause Babies to be Born Paralyzed

Cerebral palsy is another birth injury from brain damage resulting from a difficult labor or birth. Various forms of paralysis, including spasticity and rigidity of the muscles and weakness, characterize cerebral palsy. Soft, flabby muscle is a sign of flaccid paralysis, and tight and hard twitching or jerking muscles are symptoms of spastic paralysis. Difficult labor may also cut off oxygen to the fetus. When that happens, the newborn may have hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a form of brain damage that can cause paralysis.

Cephalopelvic disproportion (the mother’s pelvis is too small for the fetus’s size) that prolongs labor or requires instrument-assisted delivery can cause other conditions like Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy, facial paralysis, and cerebral palsy.

Other examples of birth injury paralysis include brachial plexus injury when the brachial plexus stretches, causing nerve damage and resulting in arm and hand weakness or paralysis. Damage to the brachial plexus, a nerve network in the shoulder, may result in paralysis of the arm or hand. This type of injury may happen during an instrument-assisted delivery when a doctor improperly uses forceps or a vacuum extractor to pull the baby out of the birth canal.

How can a Doctor’s Negligence Contribute to Paralysis from Birth?

Sometimes, birth injuries are unfortunate accidents or derive from congenital disorders. Other times, a physician’s negligent actions or inactions cause injuries that paralyze a newborn. Allowing a prolonged delivery to continue when a c-section would have saved a baby from reduced oxygen may be deemed negligence. Using forceps or vacuum extractors inexpertly can cause brain, nerve, or spinal damage, leading to paralysis.

If a Medical Professional’s Errors Caused my Baby’s Paralysis, Who can Help?

When a medical professional’s negligence can be tied to a newborn’s paralysis, past and future medical and therapeutic costs for birth injuries are then the responsibility of the medical professional whose negligence caused the injury and resulting paralysis. By law, a birth injury claim allows parents to demand compensation for their child’s injury treatment, including the past and ongoing costs to care for a paralyzed child.

For the average person, it is overwhelming and confusing to try to navigate the legal system alone, especially when a paralyzed child needs your attention. As such, a skilled birth injury attorney is crucial. Our legal team understands the ins and outs of proving negligence, causation, and damages to a jury or insurance company when we are seeking to obtain compensation for all of your child’s medical and lifelong needs. We know that your child has critical needs, and our experienced birth injury lawyers are here to help you get well-deserved financial support. To talk to an attorney on our team about how we can assist with your child’s claim, contact us at 866-708-8617 today or send us a message and request a free consultation.

Get specialized advice about your situation

  • Free Case Evaluation

Get your specific questions answered by completing our contact form

  • How do I know if my child has a pediatric malpractice case?

    If your child suffered an injury, complications, or a medical condition resulting from medical negligence, you may have grounds for a pediatric malpractice or birth injury lawsuit. Learn more.

  • How can I get help to pay for my child's medical bills?

    If a doctor, nurse, hospital, or other healthcare provider failed to provide adequate care for your child and they suffered harm, you can pursue compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more. Find out about damages.

  • How long do I have to file a pediatric malpractice claim?

    The statute of limitations to file a medical malpractice lawsuit varies from state to state. The time limits may begin when your child's condition is identified, not necessarily when it occurred. Contact us for information that applies to your child's specific case.

  • Get in touch.

Site By