Erb’s palsy, also known as a brachial plexus injury, is caused by damage to the nerves that control the arm. Nerves can sustain damage in several ways. These include tearing, stretching, and detachment from the spine. These injuries can occur in many different ways, including vehicle accidents, falls onto the shoulder, sports, and violence. In children, they can happen as a result of doctor errors or birth complications that compel a delivery team to forcefully extract a baby from the mother. This is usually done to prevent more serious issues such as suffocation.
The families of children diagnosed with Erb’s palsy are encouraged to contact an expert birth injury lawyer for assistance with their case. When Erb’s palsy is caused by factors or events outside the control of a healthcare practitioner, you may be able to seek coverage for your damages from your personal injury insurance. However, if it was caused by preventable errors or mistakes, then you can seek compensation from the at-fault parties responsible via a civil injury claim. To learn more, contact the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 222-9529.
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Categories of Nerve Damage
There are four broad categories of nerve damage that are commonly seen in newborns and infants.
- Avulsions: These involve detachment of a nerve or a bundle of nerves from the spine. They are the most serious and long-lasting of all forms of nerve damage.
- Ruptures: A rupture occurs when a nerve rips or tears somewhere along the nerve fiber.
- Neuromas: These are when damaged or injured nerves heal but leave scabs or scar tissue in their wake, causing pressure to build up along the nerve or surrounding nerves.
- Neuropraxia: This is the name given to stretched nerves.
These injuries can happen when a baby is born. If a baby grows very large during gestation, it may become stuck inside the mother. Mothers of small size or petite build can have difficulty delivering large babies, and any mother who does not sufficiently dilate can also have delivery issues. Other issues such as detachment of the placenta or the baby’s entanglement with the umbilical cord can all lead to birth complications. The same goes for breech births in which the baby does not present the right way before delivery and is born bottom-first or feet-first.
In an effort to quickly deliver the baby and prevent his or her suffocation or strangulation and to prevent undue pressure and trauma to the baby, the delivery team may forcefully pull on the baby, push down or twist its shoulder, or resort to the use of assistive devices such as vacuum extractors. Doing these things can place an exorbitant amount of pressure on the baby’s delicate and susceptible body parts, leading to injuries such as nerve damage, which in turn can cause the symptoms and disabilities that are associated with Erb’s palsy.
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Diagnosis and Testing
Erb’s palsy manifests as some form of a physical issue–whether a deformity or an inability to control–all of or parts of the arm. Because of this, it can sometimes be identified as soon as a baby is born. Infants and babies who are a little older may start to exhibit newer symptoms such as an awkwardly bending arm, an inability to use the fingers, unnaturally stiff or floppy muscles, and a preference for one hand or arm over the other.
Before initiating treatments of any kind, your child’s doctor will want to accurately test and diagnose the condition. To do this, the tests below can be used.
- MRI, CT, X-ray, or other imaging scans to identify the location and extent of nerve damage, if any
- Electromyography that measures electrical activity in the muscles
- Nerve conduction studies that measure how fast electrical and chemical impulses travel down the nerves
- Blood and blood vessel tests
These tests may or may not be available in your locality, and some of them are invasive and can cost a great deal. The same applies to rehab and therapy sessions with trainers and specialists whose services may be needed to help your child improve his or her flexibility, strength, and range-of-motion. These tests and procedures can have a serious impact on your financial stability.
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There are many forms of treatment that Erb’s palsy victims can use. It is important to remember that delays beyond four weeks can cause nerve damage to become permanent, so it is important that your doctor quickly and accurately diagnose the cause, location, and extent of your child’s injuries so that the correct treatments and interventions can be initiated.
Common treatments for Erb’s palsy include:
- Nerve grafts to bridge across an injured nerve using a healthy nerve fiber.
- Transfers of nerves from less to more important parts of the body.
- Muscle transfers to restore blood flow and muscle mass in an affected target area.
These treatments can be costly. When added to the costs of rehabilitation, lost income, caretaker expenses, potential travel to and from care centers, medications, and assistive devices such as crutches or arm braces, the costs can quickly become too much. Seek compensation from the at-fault parties who caused your child’s injury or injuries so that you are at least somewhat covered financially. Call us for assistance in this regard.
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We Are Just a Call Away
The outlook of Erb’s palsy is generally quite positive and over 90% of all patients make a complete recovery. Speak with your doctor about the odds of your child to recover. It all comes down to the type and extent of nerve damage involved and how quickly treatments are started.
We work to help families such as yours get the treatment their child needs and the compensation, if any, that they are entitled to. We are just a call away and our deep expertise in birth injury cases can prove to be invaluable in handling insurance agents, settlement negotiations, and the procedural steps involved with the discovery, evidence collection, and filing a claim with the correct legal office. Call us now on (800) 222-9529 to discuss your case.
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