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Erb’s Palsy is a form of brachial plexus palsy which damages nerves in an infant’s arm. The nerve damage will then cause weakness and loss of motion in the arm affected. A weakened arm, rotated in toward the infant’s body, marks the disorder.
In most cases, the damaged nerves are located in the upper area and can cause detrimental effects to the shoulder. The infant may not be able to move his shoulder, arm, or fingers on one side. The severity of the disorder depends on the amount of nerve damage sustained.
The most common symptoms of Erb’s Palsy include:
A pediatrician will make the determination of Erb’s Palsy after birth. A physician will likely thoroughly assess the infant, who may undergo x-rays or ultrasounds to determine damage.
Most newborns with Erb’s Palsy recover on their own or with the help of physical therapy. It takes a long time for nerves to regrow and recover, so the process may take up to two years. If your infant does not improve on his own, surgical treatment may be necessary. Nerve grafts or nerve transfers can help improve the prognosis in these cases. Even with non-surgical or surgical treatment, it is common for children to have noticeable weakness in the affected side for years, or possibly the rest of their life.
Erb’s Palsy is a condition that affects one to two babies out of every 1,000. The condition is a result of a nerve injury that happens during birth. When something pulls a baby’s neck and head to one side during the exit from the birth canal, nerve injuries can occur. This is especially true if the child takes an extended amount of time exiting the birth canal.
Another cause of Erb’s Palsy is pulling on the shoulders of a baby as the head is coming out. This can easily strain the child’s neck, resulting in nerve damage. Breech deliveries also put infants at a higher risk for Erb’s Palsy, since infants in this position generally have their arm above their heads. They may suffer injury due to excess pressure.
The only way to prevent most cases of Erb’s Palsy is to improve delivery techniques. Larger babies, pelvic abnormalities in the mother, gestational diabetes, prolonged childbirth, and poor delivery techniques are all factors that cause Erb’s Palsy. When a woman or child are at risk for this type of injury during birth, medical staff should be on alert in their efforts to prevent Erb’s Palsy. Physicians must avoid the use of forceps or a vacuum extractor, as these methods increase the risk of Erb’s.
The short answer is yes. While every situation, child, and delivery are unique, most cases of Erb’s Palsy are preventable. If you have questions about how your child’s birth injury occurred, contact our firm for a thorough consultation. Together, our lawyers and physicians will review the medical records to pinpoint where the birth injury occurred and determine whether the medical staff could have prevented it.
Erb’s Palsy can be a long-term or lifelong condition for your child. While many children recover through physical therapy, other require surgeries over their lifetime. These medical costs can be devastating. You should not have to pay for someone else’s mistake. With our free consultation, you and your family have nothing to lose, but everything to gain. We can help you determine whether the techniques medical staff used to delivery your infant were negligent and help you find peace of mind.
To speak with one of our medical malpractice lawyers, call Murphy, Falcon & Murphy today. Our experienced and strategic team is waiting to help!