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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

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Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

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Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

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Also referred to as a nerve lesion, damage to the brachial plexus disrupts the complex network of nerves that travel from the spinal cord through the arms and into the both shoulders. The nerves shoot out from the fifth through eighth cervical of the spine to send electrical charges to the hands, arms, elbows, and shoulders.

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Several factors can cause injuries to the network of nerves that supply electrical energy to the arms and shoulders. Trauma to the arm and/or shoulder produced by a car or motorcycle accident generates severe brachial nerve damage. Muscle inflammation damages nerves to the point when the onset of the condition called Parsonage-Turner Syndrome creates debilitating symptoms.

Health care professionals classify injuries to arm and shoulder muscle nerves as either obstetric or traumatic. Obstetric injuries to arm and shoulder muscle nerves occur during birth delivery. An infant’s shoulder becomes stuck inside of the birth canal, which stretches or tears the arm and/or shoulder muscle nerves. Trauma induced injuries primarily involve strong impacts to the arm and shoulder that damage muscle nerves. In either case, damage to arm and shoulder nerves at best significantly weaken the arm and at worst, put the arm out of commission.

Related Conditions

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Erb’s palsy is by far the most common related condition of arm and nerve damage. The acute medical ailment prevents patients from moving the fingers, arm, and/or shoulder. Damage to the nerves located in the upper arm causes Erb’s Palsy, which often occurs because of violent impacts from contact sports or motor vehicle accidents.

Four types of arm and shoulder injuries are related to the condition called brachial plexus palsy.


An arm and shoulder injury that involves the tearing of one or more muscles is called a rupture. This type of brachial plexus palsy related condition rarely heals and thus, requires invasive surgery to repair. Nerve tears create excruciating pain that often sends victims to hospital emergency treatment centers.


A muscle stretch injury, which happens frequently to athletes, can damage arm and shoulder muscle nerves that leave scar tissue. The development of enough scar tissue can place pressure on healthy nerves that cause the related condition called neuroma. Recovery from the related condition is common, although it can take several months to heal damaged arm and shoulder muscle nerves.


When one or more nerves rip apart from the spinal cord, you have experienced the extremely painful related condition called an avulsion. As the most severe type of related condition to arm and shoulder nerve injuries, an avulsion requires the splicing of the damaged nerves performed by a surgeon that has considerable experience performing nerve grafts. The requirement of grafting arm and/or muscle nerves from a donor makes the nerve injury a difficult related condition to remedy.


Some brachial plexus injuries that lead to related conditions of palsy shock arm and/or shoulder muscle nerves, but the pressure placed on the nerves does not result in rips or tears. Neurapraxia represents the related condition that typically requires one to three months to heal, without the need for surgery. The related condition affects both infants and adults, although it happens more often to adults who possess more muscle strength in the arms and shoulders. Athletes experience Neurapraxia, which the sports world calls a stinger.