The nerves that connect the spine to the arm converge near the neck and shoulder. During birth, if a baby becomes stuck in the birth canal, the delivery team may forcefully deliver the baby using special tools. Alternatively, they may resort to pushing the baby’s head one way or the other or pulling on the baby’s arms or shoulders. Doing this can lead to nerve damage in the neck, resulting in Erb’s palsy, which affects the arm, hands, fingers, and shoulder.
If your child suffered a birth injury of this type, you may want to investigate the cause and sources of those injuries. A College Station Erb’s palsy lawyer may be able to help. Speak with a member of our legal team today to learn more about how Erb’s palsy develops, what to do if your child was diagnosed with it, and when and how negligence may occur in a delivery case.
Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at (800) 222-9529.
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Facts and Figures on Erb’s Palsy
Erb’s palsy affects roughly two children out of every 1,000 live births, and between four and 20 percent of those affected live with a permanent impairment, according to Paediatrics & Child Health. If no improvement occurs within the first two weeks of life, then the child may have some degree of permanent injury.
Erb’s palsy is often caused by excessive lateral stretching of a baby’s head and neck in opposite directions during delivery. This can happen in cases involving shoulder dystocia, when a large baby becomes stuck behind the mother’s pelvis. The injuries that cause Erb’s palsy affect the upper portion of the brachial plexus, which is the nerve system responsible for controlling the arms.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the risk factors of brachial plexus injuries and Erb’s palsy include:
- Shoulder dystocia
- Gestational diabetes, which often causes large babies
- Maternal obesity, which may lead to macrosomia
- Prolonged labor (usually defined as over one hour for the second stage of labor)
- Breech births
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Signs, Symptoms, and Diagnosis
If your baby’s arm hangs limply by his or her side, your child exhibits a loss of sensation in the arm, the arm appears to be weak or have a limited range of motion, or if the baby holds it tightly against their body with the elbow against their side, these signs may indicate nerve damage.
Parents or nurses often notice these signs in the first hours after a child’s birth. A formal diagnosis can be arrived at with a physical examination of the child. In some cases, a neurological exam may be used to confirm or refute the diagnosis.
- A physical exam can pinpoint the location and extent of weakness or movement issues in the affected arm.
- Neurological examinations can assess sensation, reflexes, and the strength and speed of nerve impulses in the affected areas of the body.
Additional forms of testing may also be required. Speak with a College Station Erb’s palsy lawyer to determine which of these you may be able to seek compensation for.
- X-rays to identify potential blood flow issues
- MRIs to pinpoint dislocations, if any
- CT scans to identify bone or muscle injuries
- Nerve conduction tests to measure the strength or weakness of nerve impulses
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Treatment and Management of Erb’s Palsy
Erb’s palsy can usually be treated with physical therapy. Physical therapy can help to maintain and improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion while the nerves heal. The parents of the affected child must be vigilant and participate in therapy by providing care as needed at home alongside treatment by a doctor and therapist.
Surgery is usually only required if serious nerve damage occurred. For example, if a nerve tears or ruptures, surgery may be required to reconnect the nerve using a graft or nerve splice. Surgery may also be required to remove scar tissue from a nerve or to transplant muscles from somewhere else in the body—usually from the inner thigh—to help the target area recover sensation and strength.
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Long-Term Outlook for Babies With Erb’s Palsy
Mild cases of Erb’s palsy usually resolve within the first six months of the child’s life. Most children who sustain only mild nerve injuries are able to use their arm similar to their unaffected peers before their first birthday and will likely have no memory of their temporary impairment.
This is good news, of course, but it does not absolve the medical team responsible for your child’s delivery if they were in any way responsible for causing or not averting preventable birth injuries that led to the development of Erb’s palsy.
There are deadlines for filing this type of case in Texas, so you must seek damages for your child’s injuries as soon as possible after they are identified.
How We Can Help With Your College Station Erb’s Palsy Case
Your College Station Erb’s palsy lawyer may be able to:
- Investigate your child’s injuries to determine the cause of Erb’s palsy.
- Collect the evidence needed to support your claim.
- Quantify and evaluate your losses and damages.
- Negotiate with hospital representatives and insurance agents on your behalf.
- Represent you in court if needed.
The Birth Injury Lawyers Group provides services on a no-win, no fee basis. This means we only collect when you receive an award or a settlement from the at-fault parties responsible for your child’s injuries. To get started with the first steps in this process, call us at (800) 222-9529. We offer free, no-obligation case evaluations and may be able to help you pursue the compensation you need to pay for your child’s care.
Let us handle your Erb’s palsy medical malpractice birth injury case so you can focus on helping your child recover. Call (800) 222-9529 now.