Erb’s palsy is a neurological illness that is often the result of birth injuries or direct trauma to the brachial plexus, a bundle of nerves near the shoulder. These nerves control movement and sensation in the shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers. A brachial plexus injury can cause weakness and a loss of motion in the arm, and these symptoms are known as Erb’s palsy. One of the most common causes of the injuries that lead to Erb’s palsy is a traumatic downward force on the upper arm and shoulder.
If your child exhibits the symptoms of Erb’s palsy, you should speak with a Hollywood Erb’s palsy lawyer to investigate the case. To effectively treat the disorder and pursue any damages that you may be entitled to receive, you must first determine the cause, nature, and extent of your child’s injuries. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 222-9529 today for a free case evaluation. For families in Hollywood, we handle all aspects of medical negligence suits on the family’s behalf if their case warrants a claim.
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Signs, Symptoms, and Diagnosis of Erb’s Palsy
The signs and symptoms of Erb’s palsy include a weakness in one arm with either pain or a loss of sensation. The affected individual may also exhibit jerky movements, a lack of coordination, and muscles that are too stiff or too floppy.
In terms of diagnosis, in an effort to determine whether an infant or an older patient suffers from Erb’s palsy, his or her doctor will perform a thorough physical examination with a focus on the strength of the arms. Additional diagnostic procedures and tests that can help diagnose and identify the causes and location of any damage include:
- Imaging studies such as an X-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI to look for damage to the bones, joints, and nerves of the neck and shoulder.
- An electromyogram, or EMG, that measures the electrical activity of a muscle after it is given stimulation. This test also measures the speed at which impulses travel along a nerve, and it can help confirm the presence or absence of nerve damage. It can even help your child’s doctor assess the extent of any nerve damage in the body.
- Blood tests may be used to rule out the presence of viral or bacterial infections.
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Causes of Erb’s Palsy
In most cases, Erb’s palsy develops when an infant’s neck is stretched to the side while being forced downward. The delivery team may do this during an emergency delivery or in response to a delivery complication. In some cases, nerve trauma may occur if a baby is abnormally large because it can be difficult for larger infants to pass through the birth canal.
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Risk Factors for Erb’s Palsy
A number of risk factors can contribute to Erb’s palsy, including:
- Breech births: This birth happens when a baby is born feet-first or bottom-first. Such babies are at a higher risk of developing Erb’s palsy than head-first deliveries because their arms can be more easily raised and injured.
- Gestational diabetes: This condition can cause a baby to grow quite large, making it that much more difficult to deliver it.
- Improper use of assistive devices and birthing tools: In a birth complication, the delivery team may quickly and forcibly pull the baby from the birth canal, resulting in injuries to the baby’s neck and shoulder.
- Mother/baby size ratio: A petite mother giving birth to a large baby increases the likelihood of a birth injury occurring.
- Prolonged labor: If the pushing stage of labor lasts over an hour, this can place the baby at a greater risk of suffering brachial plexus damage and developing Erb’s palsy.
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Preventing Erb’s Palsy
There is little that can be done if a serious and unexpected birth complication arises, but taking the steps below can help reduce the incidence rate of Erb’s palsy:
- Plan ahead: Your child’s doctor or obstetrician should plan ahead for the delivery, which means having qualified personnel present in the delivery room, properly using assistive devices such as forceps or extractors, inducing labor and performing a C-section if needed.
- Testing: Doing the above will require testing to check whether the baby is larger than usual or if he or she is not in the correct position in the days and weeks leading up to the delivery date. Blood tests to check for infections and compatibility issues between the mother and the child’s blood types should also be performed.
- Maternal healthcare: The mother can help her child by observing a healthy diet, controlling her diabetes if she has it, and ensuring she undergoes regular prenatal checkups.
Outlook and Treatment for Erb’s Palsy
Mild and moderate cases of Erb’s palsy usually heal themselves within a few months. Almost all patients who receive treatment within four weeks make a complete recovery within the first year of life. However, in serious cases involving extensive nerve damage or delays in receiving treatment, issues and disabilities can linger for the long term.
Treatment of Erb’s palsy can include non-surgical and surgical interventions.
Physical therapy is an effective treatment for Erb’s palsy. It involves therapeutic, strength, and range-of-motion exercises that promote healing, prevent stiffening of the joints, and improves flexibility.
Your child’s doctor may recommend surgery to repair damaged nerves if the different types of therapy outlined above do not deliver the desired results. Surgical procedures include nerve grafts that involve splicing a nerve from a donor to a damaged nerve. Nerve transfers may also be performed. This surgery involves transferring nerves from a different muscle to the affected area in order to restore function in that area.
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If your child received a diagnosis of Erb’s palsy, time is of the essence. A statute of limitations applies to all injury and malpractice cases. We offer services on a contingency-fee basis and charge no upfront fees. Our Hollywood Erb’s palsy lawyers only collect once we successfully win a settlement for you, so you have nothing to lose. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at (800) 222-9529 to discuss your case and to learn more about the kinds of compensation you may be entitled to receive and how and when to file.