Infant Facial Palsy (Paralysis) Lawyer in Philadelphia
If Your Child’s Facial Nerve Was Damaged During Birth, Know Your Right to Compensation
After close to a year of waiting to meet your newest family member, it’s a gift to see their smile. However, if your child has suffered nerve damage, you may not get to see their face reflect their joy. During a difficult delivery, a baby’s extracranial facial nerve can easily be damaged by forceful intervention or the pressures of labor. This can result in various degrees of facial paralysis. Parents whose children suffer this type of injury should stay positive, as there are multiple treatment methods to help with congenital facial paralysis. If a doctor’s inattention caused the nerve damage, you may even be able to recover compensation to offset your costs.
The Villari Firm, PLLC is here to help you explore and understand your legal options if your baby suffered any type of birth injury. Our team can investigate to learn whether a doctor or nurse’s negligence resulted in damage to your child’s extracranial facial nerve. We have a wide network of medical experts who are ready to help us analyze information and identify the technical arguments needed for your case. No matter what you need during this time, our team is here and ready to support you.
If you have legal questions about your child’s congenital facial palsy, call The Villari Firm, PLLC today for a free consultation. Our Philadelphia office can be reached at (215) 372-8889.
How Negligence Can Cause Facial Palsy
Because the facial nerve is relatively close to the skin and unprotected by other structures, it is at risk when a baby faces pressure to its head and/or neck during delivery. In some cases, a baby’s posture within the uterus can cause the jaw to suffer displacement or can result in the fetus’ head being pressed against a pubic bone or the like. This can squeeze or stretch the nerve, causing damage to it.
Facial nerve injury has also been linked with forceps-assisted delivery, which can stretch nerves when a doctor is not careful. During labor, you and your baby’s health are fully in the hands of your care team. It’s essential they spot any threats to either of your health and act as quickly as possible to mitigate them.
Identifying Facial Palsy
All facial expressions are controlled via one nerve that runs along the skull—the 7th cranial nerve. When it is damaged, the brain loses its ability to control the muscles that allow smiling, blinking, frowning, and other movement. Typically, congenital facial palsy affects only one side of the face.
In infants, the first sign of facial palsy is often facial asymmetry. Parents may notice:
- Disappearance of nasolabial fold/groove (the “smile line” between nose and mouth)
- Drooping of one side of the mouth
- Eyelid widening
- Inability to fully close one eye (lagophthalmos)
- Asymmetric mouth shape when crying
If your child is exhibiting the above symptoms, you should speak to a doctor about whether they may have congenital facial palsy.
Complications of Facial Paralysis
Along with an inability to form facial expressions, infants with this condition could face physical complications that threaten their health. Because the facial muscles on one side of the face can be extremely weakened if not fully paralyzed, infants may have trouble breastfeeding because they are incapable of sucking and swallowing. In children of an age to eat solid foods, chewing difficulties are common as well. Parents of children with this condition may have to find special feeding techniques or foods to make sure their children receive enough nutrients.
When facial palsy prevents a patient from being able to close their eye, they may experience reduced production of lacrimal fluid (the natural lubricant of the eye). This can lead to corneal irritation or, in serious cases, acquired eye disease. This is the main concern for infants with facial palsy. There are steps you can take to ensure your baby’s eye stays properly hydrated, including surgical intervention. It’s important to speak with your doctor if you are concerned your child may be suffering from one of the above conditions.
Can Facial Palsy Have Social and Psychological Impacts?
If a patient’s facial palsy is not treated, they may struggle socially as they grow up. Children with this condition often notice their face becomes more asymmetric when they smile and therefore try to avoid doing so. In general, facial asymmetry can cause lower self-esteem and cause a child to withdraw from social situations. Parents are encouraged to seek treatment for their child to avoid the worst psychological effects of facial palsy.
Treatment Options for Facial Palsy/Paralysis
The good news in cases of congenital facial palsy is the prognosis is generally positive. Some infants may even experience spontaneous recovery within the first few months of life. The less severe the paralysis, the more likely such recovery is. For children who do not see any improvement without intervention, there are multiple types of treatment a family may seek.
Depending on your child’s needs, their treatment team is likely to be multidisciplinary: Along with their pediatrician, you may work with neurologists, ophthalmologists, maxillofacial surgeons, physiotherapists, and other specialists. Surgical and steroid treatment are often combined for the best outcomes. Your doctor can help you explore options like:
- Neurorrhaphy (surgical repair of a damaged nerve)
- Fascial or tendon slings
- Dynamic muscle transfer
- Lid loading
- Nerve grafts
Though these therapeutic methods can lead to vast improvements, in some cases a patient will never see a full recovery. Our team can help you understand what that might mean for your child’s future, and how making a birth injury claim now can help them in the years to come.
We’re Here to Help Your Family File a Facial Palsy Claim
We understand that, as a parent, there’s nothing more important than your child’s health and happiness. That’s why our team at The Villari Firm, PLLC is dedicated to fighting for families who have been wronged by negligent doctors and nurses. Birth injuries can cause severe complications now and in the future, and we want you and your child to have the resources necessary for treatment.
Filing a birth injury claim can help you win compensation, find justice, and make it so no other family has to suffer at the hands of your negligent care provider. Birth injuries are tragic, but they are in no way a foregone conclusion. Our team is dedicated to protecting patients from caregivers who do not keep their best interests in mind.
Over the past 2 decades of fighting for families like yours, we’ve won $125 million in compensation to help injury victims access the care they need. We want to help you understand your legal options so you can make an educated decision on how to move forward after learning your child has suffered a birth injury. Reach out to us now to learn what we can do for you.
The Villari Firm, PLLC offers aggressive representation to families in and around Philadelphia. Call (215) 372-8889 today to schedule your free consultation with our team.