Klumpke’s palsy, like Erb’s palsy and neurapraxia, is a type of brachial plexus injury. Like Erb’s palsy, it is commonly associated with injuries sustained during birth. We trust physicians and other healthcare providers to always make decisions that will not harm us, but healthcare providers are human and prone to making mistakes.
If your child is suffering from Klumpke’s palsy because of a healthcare provider’s error before or during birth, you may be entitled to recover financial compensation for your related damages through a birth injury claim. To learn more about your rights as a parent of an injured child and how you can pursue compensation for these damages, discuss your case with an experienced birth injury lawyer.
Understanding Klumpke’s Palsy
Klumpke’s palsy is also known as Klumpke’s paralysis and Dejerine-Klumpke palsy. It occurs when the nerves in the lower portion of the brachial plexus are stretched and torn. This can happen due to misuse of medical equipment during birth or when an infant with a high birth weight is trapped against the mother’s pelvis during a vaginal birth. Beyond birth injuries, older children and adults can suffer brachial plexus injuries that lead to Klumpke’s palsy in accidents, such as car accidents and falls.
Because the lower portion of the brachial plexus is the damaged portion in cases like this, babies suffering from Klumpke’s palsy experience symptoms in the forearm, wrist, and hand.
Klumpke’s Palsy Symptoms
Children suffering from Klumpke’s palsy can exhibit the following symptoms in the affected portion of the arm:
- Muscle atrophy;
- Stiff joints;
- “Claw hand,” a condition where the wrist and fingers remain tight even when the forearm is relaxed;
- Eyelid drooping on the opposite side of the child’s face;
- Weakness and loss of muscular control in the affected arm; and
- The arm hanging limp at the child’s side.
Additionally, a child suffering from Klumpke’s palsy experiences pain and tingling in the affected arm.
Long-term Complications of Klumpke’s Palsy
Although most infants suffering from Klumpke’s palsy make a full recovery within six months, those suffering from severe injuries can take longer to recover. In some cases, children suffering from Klumpke’s palsy suffer permanent disabilities in their arms and hands due to Klumpke’s palsy injuries during infancy.
Klumpke’s Palsy Treatment
The most common type of treatment for Klumpke’s palsy is stretching the affected muscles through physical therapy. In addition to stretching, a doctor may recommend the child receive surgery to repair the damaged muscles and nerves through a nerve graft or a muscle transfer. The doctor may also prescribe medication to alleviate the child’s pain related to the injury. The type an extent of the treatment the child receives depends on a few factors, which are:
- The length of time elapsed between the injury and treatment;
- The severity of the infant’s injury; and
- Whether the infant is suffering from other conditions that can impact the treatment or condition.
In some particularly severe cases, the infant also needs surgery to remove the scar tissue surrounding the brachial plexus. Removing this scar tissue allows the muscles to move and function normally. In most cases, prompt, appropriate treatment for Klumpke’s palsy restores 90 to 100% muscle functionality to the sufferer.
Pursuing Compensation for Your Birth Injury Damages
Knowing that your child’s injury was preventable can be devastating and frustrating. As a parent, your child’s Klumpke’s palsy diagnosis means you will face substantial expenses, including lost wages for the days you spend taking your child for treatment and overseeing his or her recovery. The expenses a parent faces when his or her child is injured in this way are not just financial – you and your spouse will likely suffer emotional trauma from your child’s diagnosis and the realities of him or her living with Klumpke’s palsy.
In Ontario, the statute of limitations for birth injuries is the same as it is for all other types of accidental injury — two years from the date that you knew or reasonably should have known that your child was injured due to a healthcare provider’s negligence and that pursuing compensation for your damages through a birth injury claim was a viable option. However, because your child is a minor, this two-year limit does not actually begin to toll until one of the following is satisfied:
- He or she turns 18; or
- A litigation guardian is appointed for him or her.
If your child suffers a mental or physical disability that makes it impossible for him or her to take legal action even after turning 18, the statute of limitations does not begin to toll until the disability is gone. In some cases, this means the statute of limitations is never applicable.
It is in your best interest to work with an experienced birth injury lawyer to pursue compensation for your damages because a lawyer understands the legal process of doing so and can advocate for you in negotiations with the healthcare provider’s professional liability insurer and in court. One of the largest parts of this role is gathering and using evidence that clearly shows that your child’s injury resulted from professional malpractice, such as:
- Photographs of your child’s injury at and after birth;
- Copies of your child’s medical records; and
- Documentation of your healthcare provider’s actions and suggested courses of action for you leading up to and during birth.
Work with an Experienced Toronto Birth Injury Lawyer
If your child is suffering from Klumpke’s palsy due to a physician or another healthcare provider’s error during labor or delivery, you could be entitled to recover financial compensation for your related losses through a birth injury claim. To learn more about your rights as the parent of an injured child and how you can pursue this compensation, contact our team of Toronto birth injury lawyers at Preszler Law Firm now to set up your free legal consultation with us. During your consultation, we will review your case to determine the most productive way for you to proceed.