erbs palsy

Erbs Palsy

What Is Erb's Palsy?

Erb's Palsy is a birth injury suffered when a child suffers a traumatic stretching of the brachial plexus, the nerve fibers running from the neck through the shoulder, during delivery. Birth injury statistics show that there is a brachial plexus injury in every 500 to 1000 births. Erbs Palsy is one of a group of brachial plexus injuries, which include brachial plexus palsy, Klumpke's Palsy and Shoulder Dystocia.

Causes of Erb's Palsy

There are four types of nerve injuries suffered during delivery that can result in a brachial plexus injury:

  • When the nerve is torn from the spine during birth, the injury is called an avulsion.
  • When the nerve tears, but stays attached to the spine, the injury is called a rupture.
  • When the nerve attempts to heal itself after being torn, a neuroma can form. A neuroma is scar tissue that exerts pressure on the nerve, causing paralysis.
  • A praxis is a nerve injury in which the nerve does not tear. The injury heals on its own, typically within three to six months.

Erb's palsy injuries usually occur from a doctor exerting pressure on the abdomen during delivery, exerting excessive force or traction on the head during delivery, or improper use of forceps or vacuum extractors. Erb's Palsy represents the paralysis of a group of muscles of the shoulder and upper arm. The arm hangs and is limp, the hand may rotate inward unnaturally, and normal shoulder, arm, and hand movements are lost. Children and adults suffering from Erb's Palsy usually cannot lift the arm above their head and often have difficulty gripping objects with the affected hand.

Prevention of Erbs Palsy

Obstetricians can often prevent Erb's Palsy by watching for common risk factors such as maternal diabetes, excessive weight gain, or obesity. Other risk factors include a mother with a small pelvis, a mother whose previous child was large at birth, or a woman in post-term pregnancy. The physician should also be extremely careful with the baby's head and neck during delivery. Excessive force on the head or neck is a major cause of Erb's Palsy. Even in the event of complications, the doctor should be able to prevent the injury in most cases. If Erb's Palsy does occur, medical negligence could be to blame.

Symptoms of Erb's Palsy

The symptoms of Erb's Palsy are paralysis or lack of muscle control in the baby's arm or hand. The arm will appear limp with little or no movement, the hand rotating inward. Other symptoms include a decreased in sensation in the arm or hand; an ability to move arms, but little movement in wrist and hand; an ability to use hands, but no use of shoulder or elbow; limp, hanging fingers; facial paralysis on the affected side; and the inability to sit up without assistance. Long term effects of Erb's Palsy include the inability to lift an arm above the head, and difficulty using the hand for common tasks such as gripping objects.

Erbs Palsy Treatment

Erb's Palsy treatment can include multiple surgeries to repair damaged nerves. Physical therapy and daily exercise can help restore some range of motion and possibly prevent the muscle and joints from becoming immobile. After the age of two, there is usually no more physical improvement, although an occupational therapist may be able to help the patient learn to live a more normal life with the injury. If you believe or want to find out if your child's injuries could have been prevented or was a result of medical malpractice, negligence, misdiagnosis, or not diagnosed at all, contact our birth injury attorneys. When doctors, nurses, staff, and medical facilities fall below the minimum standard of skill and care to which their profession demands, medical malpractice and negligence is an unfortunate but likely result. At the Rasansky Law Firm, we question why these healthcare professionals failed to do everything possible to prevent your child's injuries. We regularly consult with Board Certified Obstetrician Gynecologists, Maternal Fetal Specialists, Neonatologists, and Pediatric Neurologists to determine whether your child's injuries should have been prevented. Does your child suffer from symptoms of Erb's Palsy? Contact the Rasansky Law Firm online, or call our offices anytime at 1-877-659-1620 to discuss your child's situation with our experienced Erb's Palsy attorneys. In the complimentary consultation, our attorneys will review your experiences and situation and provide you information regarding your legal rights, options, and responsibilities.


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