Erb’s Palsy is a type of brachial plexus disorder that stems from physical injury during birth. The brachial plexus is the bundle of nerves in the upper arm. Erb’s Palsy affects about one in every 1,000 babies. Shoulder dystocia during birth is a common cause of Erb’s Palsy. This is an avoidable birth injury that may point to medical malpractice. Henshaw & Henry, PC can help you discover the cause of your child’s condition and potentially seek financial compensation from the responsible physician or hospital.
The brachial plexus is what enables movement and sensation in the arm, hands, and fingers. Damage to this bundle of nerves during a difficult birth can cause a number of injuries and conditions, one of which is Erb’s Palsy. Erb’s Palsy often stems from shoulder dystocia, or when the baby’s shoulder and head gets stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone in the birth canal. If something stretches the baby’s neck to the side, it can damage the nerves located there and lead to Erb’s Palsy. Infants with Erb’s Palsy may not exhibit any immediate signs. Sometimes, however, parents may notice symptoms such as:
A doctor will diagnose Erb’s Palsy through a physical examination and possibly an x-ray to check for any damage to the joints or bones. Most babies with Erb’s Palsy will eventually recover movement and feeling in the arm, but often require daily physical therapy for full recovery. Doctors will reexamine your child regularly to see if the nerves are healing. It can take up to two years for the baby to fully recover. In some cases, surgical treatment such as a nerve graft or nerve transfer may be necessary to improve the outcome. In some children, the affected arm may grow at a slower pace than the other, making a size difference during growth.
Upon an Erb’s Palsy diagnosis, you are right to start researching potential medical malpractice and legal actions. A large percentage of Erb’s Palsy cases stem from birth-related injuries and negligence or malpractice on the delivering physician’s part. The doctor may not have been competent for the difficult delivery, and may have made poor choices or incorrectly used birth-assisting tools such as vacuums or forceps. Unnecessary force or yanking on the baby may have injured the brachial plexus and caused symptoms of Erb’s Palsy.
Erb’s Palsy may not affect your child for life, but it can cause significant damage to you and your family during diagnosis and recovery. The emotional distress of learning that your child has a motor function disability can be great, on top of the costs of months or years of rehabilitative therapy and doctor’s visits, lost wages from taking your baby to the doctor, the baby’s pain and suffering, long-term disability, and other losses. As a parent, you have the right to investigate your child’s Erb’s Palsy and possible negligence during delivery. Contact our firm to learn more.