How does traumatic brain damage occur?

Doctors use medical devices to assist in the delivery of babies. Two types of devices for this purpose are forceps and the vacuum extractors.

  • Forceps – which resemble salad tongs and are used to grip around the head of a baby in order to assist delivery through the birth canal. If the forceps are gripped too tightly, or if there is excessive force or twisting, the baby can experience serious damage.
  • Vacuum extractor – a soft plastic cup is attached to the top of the baby’s head while gentle vacuum pressure is applied allowing medical staff to rotate or otherwise adjust the baby to allow for safe delivery.

When proper care is used, these devices are efficient in assisting in the delivery process. However, improper use can result in injury to the baby’s skull, face and brain. Used incorrectly, these devices can severely damage the brain, causing bleeding, and may result in Cerebral Palsy.

Because identification of the effects of CP may take some time, the baby may, at first appear normal. Eventually they may begin to exhibit signs of trauma such as turning blue due to respiratory issues, or exhibiting seizure activity. While Cerebral Palsy is a common result of birth injury, other injuries frequently occur, as well.

Common birth injuries attributed to the use of delivery assistance devices include:

  • Erb’s Palsy – A condition that typically damages the nerves that control the muscles in the hand and arm.
  • Shoulder Dystocia –In this condition, the baby requires manipulation to permit delivery. The delivering obstetrician might pull too aggressively, causing injury that may result in Cerebral Palsy or other neurologic injury.
  • Brachial Plexus Palsy – -An injury results from excessive or improper pressure on the shoulder during delivery, which in turn damages the brachial plexus resulting in nerve sensation and arm movement difficulties.
  • Klumpke’s Palsy – A variety of Brachial Plexus Palsy that injures the fingers and wrist, occurring during delivery in association with a shoulder dystocia.