Nerves travel from the brain through the spine to endpoints throughout the body. The nerves that control sensation and movement in the arms travel from the brain and spine to the arms via the shoulders and neck. They come together in the shoulder to form the brachial plexus and then split up to the upper and lower arms as well as the hands, wrists, and fingers. If the brachial plexus sustains an injury, it can affect feeling and movement in the parts of the arm or hands that were controlled by the nerves that were damaged.
Erb’s palsy is a neurological illness that manifests as weakness or some degree of paralysis in the arm. It often occurs as a birth injury. Natural factors such as fetal distress or abnormal growth can cause it but it is sometimes caused by doctor errors or birth complications that cause injury to the nerves of an infant. If your child suffered a birth injury or has Erb’s palsy, call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at (800) 222-9529 for a free case evaluation. If you can prove that negligence caused your child’s injuries, you may be able to win compensation.
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About Erb’s Palsy
Erb’s palsy is a nerve illness that affects between two and three children out of every 1,000 born in the United States. It can happen at any time and often affects sportspeople and those who participate in physical activities. In adults, it sometimes leads to a burning or electrical sensation in the arm. Trauma, impacts, and suddenly twisting the neck can also cause minor nerve damage that affects the neck, shoulder, or arm. However, with Erb’s palsy, the issues are more serious. A patient may not be able to move or feel all of or parts of the arm at all.
When it happens in adults, the effects can last a few hours or a few days, or even a few minutes. In children who suffer a birth injury, however, it can lead to lifelong incapacitation if serious nerve damage that is not quickly treated is involved. This is why it is very important for you to first have your child checked by a pediatrician if you suspect your child suffered nerve damage or was delivered in an emergency birth and then initiate treatments to help your child quickly heal. Delays beyond a month can cause nerve damage to become permanent.
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Types and Severity
Four broad types of nerve damage can lead to Erb’s palsy.
The first is neuropraxia. In the simplest terms, this is when nerves become stretched. The space between the neck and shoulder is called an interval. If this interval is elongated while a delivery team extracts a baby from the mother, the nerves in the neck may become stretched, leading to issues with feeling and control in different parts of the arm.
The second type of nerve damage that often occurs at birth is called a rupture. This is a serious type of nerve damage that involves nerves that are torn. These nerves can heal on their own but usually require therapy of some sort such as physiotherapy or strength exercises to improve sensation and strength in the affected area. If there is no functional improvement in the patient after about six months of therapy for a rupture injury, surgery may be required.
The third type of nerve damage–and the most serious type–is called an avulsion. This happens when a nerve becomes detached from its roots in the spine. Avulsions usually require surgery for correction and can be very painful. Surgical procedures can be expensive and may or may not be available in your area.
The final type of nerve injury that can occur is called a neuroma. This happens when a nerve is first injured but then heals but leaves behind scar tissue in its place. If this scar tissue squeezes, pinches, or pushes on the adjacent nerves, it can inhibit the transfer of signals along that section of nerve, leading to issues with movement, control, and sensation.
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How Erb’s Palsy Occurs
If healthcare personnel delivering a child take every precaution to prevent injury to the mother and her baby, then how do birth injuries occur?
The simple answer to this is that the unexpected can always happen, and people make mistakes. A child may become stuck inside the mother for many different reasons. For example, gestational diabetes can cause a fetus to grow very large, making it hard for it to be delivered. Large babies tend to become stuck behind the mother’s pelvis. This condition is called shoulder dystocia. Alternatively, the mother may be small or she may not dilate enough during labor. These issues can also cause a baby to become stuck inside the mother.
If this happens, the delivery team may have no choice but to forcefully remove the baby from the mother and they may have to do so very quickly to avoid other potential injuries such as hypoxia or the death of the baby. To remove a baby from the uterus, the most straightforward procedure is to push down on the head of the baby and pull on the shoulder. Doing this can cause nerve damage.
Negligence usually comes into play if it can be shown that the delivery team should have known, tested, or accounted for the possibility of a birth complication occurring but failed to do so and that, in failing to do so, they were negligent of their responsibility of care to the mother and her child. Any damages that arise as a result should be borne by the medical team responsible.
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Call Us Today
If your child suffered a birth injury or was diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, you should speak to an attorney to investigate the case. You may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim in which case you can sue for damages and have the at-fault parties responsible for your damages pay for the treatment, lost income, tests, and therapy that you suffer as a direct result of the injuries your child suffered.
Contact the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at (800) 222-9529 for a free case evaluation and to discuss the next steps you should take.