Facial Paralysis occurs when the nerves that control the facial muscles become inflamed, causing temporary or permanent paralysis or disfigurement. It may also afflict just in one side of the face with a droop or stiff appearance.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, Facial Paralysis impacts about 40,000 Americans every year. It can come up unexpectedly at any age–especially after a virus or trauma. However, the most common incidence in infants arises shortly after birth. If you or someone you know has an infant who is coping with this condition, a childbirth injury attorney can help you explore your legal rights and if you have been a victim of medical malpractice. The law firm of Bennett & Heyman, P.A. has an established practice of childbirth injury. They will fight for your rights and help you pursue financial recovery for your losses. To schedule a free consultation call (410) 727-268.
Types of Facial Paralysis in Infants
Facial Paralysis can present an enigma for doctors because the causes are often unknown or can be a combination of factors. There are two main types of facial paralysis that can affect babies:
Congenital Facial Paralysis
This condition occurs on one side or both sides of the face. It is associated with other disorders such as cleft palate and deformed extremities. It is defined as palsy of the 7th cranial nerve that is present at birth. It is believed to result from birth trauma, intrauterine posture or compression. Studies show this injury occurs in 2.1 per 1,000 births.
While congenital conditions may be the result of one or more genetic factors, there are other causes that may relate back to poor medical care during pregnancy such as untreated infections, a medication or exposure to chemicals as well as other environmental factors. Since it is often difficult to identify the exact causes, a consultation with an experienced attorney can be helpful for you to determine if medical malpractice or negligence is at the root of this condition.
Acquired Facial Paralysis
This injury occurs during childbirth. It is also known as Bell’s Palsy. Facial paralysis is a common childbirth injury when the infant’s facial nerve is damaged during a difficult labor and child delivery. The use of forceps during labor has been associated to this. The nervedamage is caused by pressure on the infant’s face during the passage through the birth canal.
Modern technology should be used to prevent Acquired Facial Paralysis. But unfortunately, this is not the case. And human error is often the cause of this childbirth injury.
Challenges Faced By Infants With Facial Paralysis
Great challenges can arise in the process of diagnosis and treatment of Facial Paralysis resulting from a childbirth injury. There are considerable emotional and social difficulties associated with it. This is true for both Congenital and Acquired Facial Paralysis. Children with facial motion disorders can have difficulties with the most basic activities such as feeding, chewing, speaking and even closing the eyes. The physical symptoms can also include:
- Difficulties in nursing.
- Eye difficulties such as irritation, blurred vision, corneal ulcers, and repeated infections.
- Differences in the appearance of the eyes as the eye in the paralyzed side can appear larger or have a staring appearance.
- The nose may be partially collapsed.
- Paralysis on one side that may distort the ability of the child to smile.
- The lips may not move or appear flaccid.
- Poor movement of the lips that can result in difficulties with speech.
Another dilemma that comes with this condition in babies is the need for multiple doctors. There are mild levels that will not need long-term medical attention and may be resolved without extensive medical treatments. However, every case of Financial Paralysis is different. The more severe cases will present significant challenges in the baby’s development and require a team of doctors to treat the child. Experts in this condition recommend that the baby be seen by physicians specialized in:
- Speech pathology
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Developmental psychology
In severe cases, the damage may be permanent. For example, damage to the eye can lead to partial or full blindness. Most doctors recommend timely medical and possibly surgical treatments. Timeliness in these treatments can make a great difference and significantly improve outcomes. Plus, initial care will likely be followed by follow up and support care, causing expenses to add up quickly.
The psychological impact shouldn’t be underestimated since facial expressions provide unique insight into the child’s emotions and are a means of communication. This is another layer of problems and challenges encountered by infants with Facial Paralysis.
Financial Challenges for the Parents of Infants with Facial Paralysis
Most families facing the prospect of multiple treatments can become heavily burdened by medical expenses. Also, providing the appropriate treatment can be an uphill financial struggle due to the timeliness needed for these treatments to be successful.
The parents’ loss of income, psychological injuries and all expenses associated with the child’s Facial Paralysis can be recovered with the right legal representation. Most parents believe they are at fault for the baby’s childbirth injuries. But most of these injuries could have been prevented and shouldn’t be blamed on the parents. It is appalling that oftentimes the birth injuries could have been avoided by methods as simple as proper monitoring the baby’s heart rate or a vaginal examination that could have indicated the problems to be expected during labor. This is where a skilled medical malpractice attorney can be of great help.
Our Baltimore Facial Paralysis Injuries During Childbirth Injury Attorney
The experienced childbirth injury attorneys of Bennett & Heyman, P.A. understand the heartbreak parents suffer when a delivery goes wrong. Our decades of experience give us a unique insight into the common medical errors that can go unnoticed during labor due to medical malpractice. Don’t wait to consult a lawyer, because important deadlines may be missed. Call Bennett & Heyman at (410) 429-7856 to schedule an appointment.