Erb’s palsy often occurs in newborns and young infants. It can be diagnosed as soon as it occurs because the symptoms are easy to detect, and they can be quite frightening. The affected child’s arm will likely hang flaccidly and very unnaturally to the side, and the child may experience pain or a loss of sensation in all or part of the arm between the shoulder and the fingers. The extent of your child’s disabilities and the path to recovery will depend on how, when, and where the birth injury in question occurred.
When it comes to paralysis or weakness in the arm from Erb’s palsy, the source of the problem is damage to the brachial plexus, which is located near the neck. The brachial plexus is a nerve bundle through which nerve impulses travel from the brain and spine to terminal points throughout the arm. If your child has difficulty moving or using his or her arm, hands, or fingers, this may indicate that he or she has Erb’s palsy or some form of sensory or nerve damage. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at (800) 222-9529 to learn more about Erb’s palsy injuries.
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Types of Erb’s Palsy
The four broad categories of Erb’s palsy are as follows:
- Neuroma: This is when an injured nerve heals but leaves scar tissue in its place. This is called a neuroma, and it may press against or pinch the nerves adjacent to the injured nerve, inhibit the transmission of nerve signals, or cause pain or a loss of sensation.
- Neuropraxia: This is when a nerve is inordinately stretched. In adults, stretched nerves sometimes result in a burning sensation that travels down the arm. It may feel like an electrical current is shooting down the arm. This type of nerve damage is relatively mild.
- Rupture: This is when a nerve becomes torn somewhere along the nerve fiber. Excessive pressure or pulling or pushing on the baby’s head, neck, or shoulder can cause the baby’s delicate nerves to overstretch and tear. This can be quite painful.
- Avulsion: This is when a nerve becomes separated from the nerve root in the spine. This is the most serious type of nerve damage, next to nerve death. It can be extremely painful and usually requires surgery for correction.
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Treating Erb’s Palsy
The treatment of choice that your doctor recommends for your child will depend on the type and extent of the injury that your child sustained. Most brachial plexus injuries recover themselves with the passage of time, and the recovery rates are above 90% within the first 12 months of the infant’s life. Extensive nerve damage as is commonly seen in rupture or avulsion cases can require surgery followed by regular physical therapy. Even then, a complete recovery is never guaranteed, and your child may or may not suffer long-term pain or discomfort in the arm.
Common surgical procedures used to treat Erb’s palsy include nerve grafts, nerve transfers, muscle transfers, and cutting hyperactive or overly sensitive nerves. Surgery of any type can be painful and costly and may only be available at select locations within your vicinity. Our birth injury team can find and connect you to the treatment centers that can provide you with the care and rehabilitation that your child needs.
It is absolutely essential that you initiate the treatments recommended by your doctor as soon as Erb’s palsy is diagnosed. Research has shown that if a baby sustains a serious birth injury and develops Erb’s palsy but does not receive treatment for it within the first month of life, the injuries in question may become permanent. Young nerves can heal quickly with the right treatments and interventions but you must vigilantly pursue damages and initiate treatment if your child is to have any hope of making a complete recovery.
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Delivery room malpractice may entitle you to certain forms of compensation for the damages your child and your family suffered from as a result of a birth injury. To win compensation, however, you must:
- Identify who was negligent. This can be a doctor, a nurse, a member of the delivery team, or the medical facility itself.
- Determine the negligent behavior or action that caused a birth injury. This can be the incorrect use of assistive devices, medication errors, preventable procedural errors, or diagnosis errors.
- Prove that the birth injury or injuries sustained because of negligence resulted in various costs. Compensable costs usually include lost income, surgery and therapy costs, and the costs of assistive devices and medications.
Doing all of this will involve interviewing your child’s delivery team, collecting medical records, proving that the delivery team owed you a duty of care, and substantiating that the care your child received fell below the acceptable baseline established for competent medical services.
If you can do this, you will then have to do the following:
- Issue a letter of intent to sue to the at-fault parties you identified as being responsible for your child’s injuries.
- Quantify the damages you’ve suffered and may suffer in the future because of your child’s injuries.
- File all the requisite paperwork and forms with the correct courts and offices.
- Manage communications and negotiations with insurance agents and hospital staff.
This is where we can help. We have years of experience handling birth injury cases of every imaginable type. From cerebral palsy and hypoxia to Erb’s palsy and premature births, we help families handle every aspect of their child’s care. This includes determining when and where a birth injury occurred, identifying the at-fault parties, if any, responsible for those injuries, and seeking the compensation that they may be legally entitled to.
Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today to learn more about our process and how we can help you navigate and hopefully win compensation for your child’s birth injury case. Speak with our team at (800) 222-9529. We provide case evaluations and private consultations at no upfront cost. We will even represent you in court if your case goes to trial, and we only collect if you win your case.