Facial Paralysis

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Facial paralysis can be the result of a difficult birthing process or a birth injury caused by medical malpractice. While facial paralysis may be present at birth, statistics have shown that about 50% of all sufferers have complete spontaneous recovery within the first 30 days without any treatment or intervention. Another 20% suffering from facial paralysis recover between 1 and 3 months of birth, while another 5-10% recover between 4 and 6 months of birth. This leaves 20% of the group not recovering at all from facial paralysis.

Causes 

Facial paralysis is a condition caused by compression of the facial nerves. In some difficult deliveries facial paralysis is just an unfortunate result of the birthing process, with some facial paralysis having no apparent cause.

Facial paralysis can be suffered while the infant is still inside of the uterus or while being delivered. It is caused by pressure on the baby's face during labor or birth. The use of forceps during childbirth may also cause injury to a baby's facial nerves.

Because childbirth can be such a complicated process that exposes a baby and a mother to physical harm, doctors must be extremely experienced and ready to adjust to any possible complications that may arise during the childbirth process. Any doctor negligence or hospital negligence could lead to injuries resulting in facial paralysis.

Risk Factors 

There are some preexisting conditions as well as certain risk factors that have been identified to increase the risk of facial paralysis. Since conditions such as facial paralysis can be the result of birth trauma, it is important to identify and decrease the risk of suffering birth injuries. The failure to diagnose these risk factors could increase the chances of a birth injury.

  • prolonged pregnancies and labor
  • epidural anesthesia
  • labor inducing drug use
  • larger birth weight

While many of these factors are not commonly associated to facial paralysis, extra caution should be implemented when applicable. 

Diagnosing Facial Paralysis 

A baby affected by facial paralysis should be noticeable right after birth. Normal expressions will be displayed differently and sometimes the baby's eyelid on the affected side will not close. Depending on the extent of the compression, the facial paralysis can affect the entire side of the infant's face from the forehead to chin. Most commonly, facial paralysis will involve just the lower branch of the facial nerve that controls muscles around the lips. Lower branch facial paralysis is more apparent and recognizable when the infant cries. Facial paralysis is usually on one side of the face, but is it not uncommon for both sides to be involved.

Treatment of Facial Paralysis 

Birth injuries resulting in facial paralysis can range from mild to severe, depending on the cause of the injury. In cases where the nerve is merely bruised, the patient with facial paralysis will usually recover within a few weeks. Cases involving more severe nerve damage may necessitate an operation to surgically repair the damaged facial nerves. Since facial paralysis is caused by damaged nerve fiber, and not torn nerve fiber, the infant should completely heal from facial paralysis in 80% of facial paralysis cases.

Most paralyses are a once in a lifetime event, however it is not uncommon for patients to experience multiple attacks. Following the first attack, the facial muscles become weakened, making the patient more susceptible to subsequent attacks. This can be avoided with facial rehabilitation to bulk and strengthen facial muscles.

Contact an Attorney Near You 

If your child is suffering from facial paralysis due to medical malpractice, contact an attorney today. Medical malpractice lawsuits can be difficult to prove and an experienced medical malpractice attorney specializing in facial paralysis can make your claim successful, resulting in compensation for you and your child.

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