Erb’s palsy is a type of shoulder and arm injury that can happen to the baby during labor and delivery. The birth of your child is supposed to be a happy event, but sometimes things go wrong, and the baby suffers injuries during labor or delivery. If your child sustained a brachial plexus injury, a Tucson Erb’s palsy lawyer might be able to help you pursue compensation for the harm.
You can call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at (800) 222-9529 for a free consultation. There is no obligation.
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An Overview of Erb’s Palsy
All of the nerves for your arm travel through your shoulder on their way from the spinal cord to the arm and hand. This neural network has the name brachial plexus at the location near your neck.
Without the proper functioning of these nerves, you would not be able to feel or move your shoulder, fingers, arm, or hand. When the nerves in the brachial plexus suffer injuries, the patient can experience palsy (weakness) in the affected body parts. This weakness can limit the patient’s ability to move the arm.
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How Erb’s Palsy Happens
Sometimes a baby’s head gets pulled into a severe angle during delivery, stretching the neck. As a result, the nerves in the neck get injured, causing brachial plexus birth palsy, also called Erb’s palsy. Dr. Wilhelm Erb was one of the first doctors to notice this medical issue.
These injuries tend to occur during challenging deliveries, like long labor or a breech or oversized infant. Also, when the medical professionals have to pull the baby forcibly to speed up the delivery, the nerves in the brachial plexus can get stretched and injured. There is an increased likelihood of Erb’s palsy whenever a baby’s shoulders get caught in the birth canal during labor or delivery, causing a brachial plexus injury.
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The Two Types of Brachial Plexus Birth Palsies
If the upper nerves in the neural network suffer damage, the baby might be able to move its fingers, but not raise the arm overhead or use the shoulder. This situation is Erb’s palsy. Most shoulder birth injuries are Erb’s palsy.
A total brachial plexus birth injury (also called global brachial plexus birth palsy) involves injury to all the nerves in the brachial plexus. Global brachial plexus birth palsies cause more impairment than Erb’s palsy.
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How to Tell If Your Infant Might Have Erb’s Palsy
Newborns do not move the same way that adults do, so you may need to make careful observations to discover Erb’s palsy in your baby. A parent can notice if the infant does not move both arms equally. For example, if one arm dangles, turns inward, or has limited movement, or your baby only reaches for objects with one arm, you might want to address the issue with the infant’s doctor.
The pediatrician can test for other symptoms of Erb’s palsy in your newborn. These symptoms can include arm weakness or a lack of sensation in an arm.
In addition to a physical examination of the baby, the doctor might use imaging studies, like x-rays or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test, to gather more information about the nerves and other tissue in the shoulder. Sometimes doctors use nerve conduction studies (NCS) to evaluate the nerves and electromyograms (EMG) to assess the muscles.
The Prognosis for Erb’s Palsy
Even with aggressive treatment, Erb’s palsy can lead to life-long problems for your child. Your child might need surgical intervention as an infant and later in life. He might experience ongoing paralysis, lack of function in the arm, shoulder, and hand. The affected limb might have permanent weakness.
Impairment of an arm can place many limitations on your child throughout the lifetime. To find out whether you might have a case for compensation, you can contact a Tucson Erb’s palsy lawyer with the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 222-9529. Do not wait too long, or you might lose the right to money damages. Every state has a deadline for taking legal action.
Treatments for Erb’s Palsy
The treatment plan for your child will depend on which nerves suffered damage and the severity of the harm. In the mildest cases, it can take a couple of years for the nerves to regrow and heal.
Whether your child has to undergo surgical intervention or not, your doctor might recommend physical therapy. The physical therapist can train the parents on the correct way to assist your baby with exercises to prevent the joints in the shoulder, hand, wrist, and elbow from locking up permanently and developing contractures.
In cases of significant impairment or when non-surgical therapy does not achieve the desired results, your infant’s doctor might recommend an operation. The surgical options can include:
- Transferring a healthy tendon from a different part of the body to the damaged shoulder.
- Releasing tissue around the joints that interferes with movement.
- Grafting or transferring nerves from other areas of your child to the affected shoulder or arm.
You should expect a lengthy recovery process, lasting many months or several years, with the possibility of follow-up operations down the road.
Complications of Brachial Plexus Injuries
Every patient is unique, so your infant might experience different problems than others with Erb’s palsy. A person with an injury to the brachial plexus can experience these issues, either in the short-time or permanently:
- Nerve damage can cause pain. The discomfort might be short-lived, or it could become chronic.
- Lack of use of a weak arm can cause muscle degeneration and atrophy. By the time the nerves regrow and innervate the muscles over two or three years, the muscles have broken down and lost function.
- When you do not have typical sensation in the arm because of nerve damage, you might inadvertently injury the arm with burns or lacerations.
- Current medical knowledge cannot restore full function and sensation to every case of Erb’s palsy. Your child might face permanent paralysis or other impairments.
Some people have multiple adverse consequences of Erb’s palsy.
How To Protect Your Legal Rights If Your Child Has Erb’s Palsy
You do not have to face this frightening situation alone. An Erb’s palsy lawyer who handles cases in Tucson can help. You can call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at (800) 222-9529 for a free consultation.