Erb’s Palsy

Erb’s Palsy

Erb's Palsy

What Is Erb’s Palsy? Why you might need a Erb’s Palsy Lawyer.

Erb’s Palsy physical birth injury occurs when the nerves in a baby’s upper arm are damaged. This nerve damage can occur at any time, but it is most often associated with birth injuries. Typically, Erb’s palsy is classified as a weakness of the arm, shoulder, hand, or wrist, though the severity of the condition varies. Erb’s Palsy physical birth injury is diagnosed when the nerves responsible for the control and feeling of this part of the body are injured, and affects about one to two out of every 1,000 babies.

The nerves in the brachial plexus are responsible for movement and feeling in the arm, hand, and fingers. An injury to this area usually prevents movement of the damaged shoulder or upper arm. In the most severe cases, the injury can affect the entire trunk of the body, impacting the spinal cord’s ability to control normal nerve impulses to the arm, hand, wrist, and fingers. Erb’s palsy can look like paralysis of one arm.

Causes of Erb’s Palsy

During delivery, an infant’s arm or shoulder may become caught or strained, damaging the nerves of the upper arm. This injury is a form of obstetric brachial plexus disorder, also known as brachial plexus palsy, and occurs at Erb’s point, the area near the neck where the nerves meet.

A difficult labor makes the chances of Erb’s palsy that much greater. This life-altering condition can occur in several different ways:

  • Awkward positioning: If the baby passes through the birth canal at a bad angle, their arm and shoulder can be strained if the head is turned in one direction while the arm is pulled in the opposite direction.
  • Breech birth: Babies are meant to be delivered head first. If a child is born breech, its legs will be delivered first and stretches the baby with violent force. This position can put stress on the brachial plexus nerves if the baby’s arms are pulled over the head during delivery. Shoulder dislocation is also a possibility, but brachial plexus injury is almost always a certainty.
  • Face-up delivery: It is best for babies to be born in face-down position, and most of them are. However, when a baby is born face-up, there may be too much pulling on the shoulders.
  • Large baby: When a baby is much bigger than the birth canal, delivery can be difficult and excessive stretching and pulling of the head and neck can cause nerve damage.
  • Tools used during delivery: If forceps or vacuum extraction are used improperly during delivery, there is a greater risk of an infant suffering nerve damage.

Though accidents do happen, with proper medical care during pregnancy and delivery, Erb’s palsy can be avoided.

Types of Erb’s Palsy

There are usually four ways in which nerve damage can occur and cause Erb’s Palsy physical birth injury:

  • Avulsion: The most severe injury with the least likely chance of recovery, an avulsion is when the arm nerves are ripped from the spinal cord. Donor nerve transplants or the relocation of nerves from other muscles may offer some degree of repair, but it is not possible to fully reattach the nerves to the spinal cord.
  • Neurapraxia: The most common injury responsible for causing Erb’s palsy, neurapraxia is damage to the brachial plexus without tearing. Neurapraxia is considered the least threatening injury to the arm or shoulder nerves and, with proper treatment and therapy, can often be recovered from completely.
  • Neuroma: Damaged or torn nerves may develop scar tissue which interrupts the nerves within the brachial plexus. This condition, which usually forms after stretch injuries, puts pressure on nearby nerves, causing signs of Erb’s palsy.
  • Rupture: When the actual nerves are torn, a rupture occurs. This serious injury requires surgery and therapy to try to regain normal function, but the chances of complete recovery are usually low.

 Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy

A physical examination and various tests and scans will confirm the diagnosis of Erb’s Palsy physical birth injury. The signs and symptoms of this condition are usually easy to see, though they can vary in severity:

  • Weak arm
  • Limp arm
  • Favoring the affected arm
  • Holding the affected arm against the side of the body
  • Lack of motor control
  • Total or partial paralysis of the arm
  • Inability to grip with the hand on the affected arm
  • Undeveloped arm

When Your Child Is Diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy

In many cases, Erb’s palsy will affect your child for life. If this serious nerve injury is so severe that surgery and therapy cannot repair it, your child will have to learn to live with an arm that does not work properly and marks them as someone with a disability. The physical effects are harmful enough, but the psychological fallout can be incredibly detrimental to a child’s well-being and socialization. They will likely be unable to participate in the same activities as their peers and have difficulty performing daily tasks.

The demands of this injury on your family and your resources will be significant. In most cases, surgery is needed within the first several months of a child’s life to give them the best chance of regaining arm function.  Erb’s Palsy physical birth injury requires visits to neurologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and more. At-home care is also necessary, and extra time will need to be spent tending to the injured arm.

If your family and your child have been affected by Erb’s Palsy physical birth injury and the diagnosis may be the result of medical negligence or malpractice. If you believe that your child was a victim of a careless medical professional, contact Thurswell Law for a free consultation. Our experienced family of attorneys will offer you the best chance of receiving full monetary compensation for your suffering. We do not charge any fees unless you collect. Call (248) 354-2222 today to schedule your free consultation.

 

 

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