Erb’s palsy, also called brachial plexus palsy, is a type of brachial plexus injury. Erb’s palsy children experience difficulties with movement in the affected arm and shoulder. The birth injury of Erb’s palsy is usually a consequence of an obstetrician’s failure to properly handle the delivery complication known as shoulder dystocia when the baby’s shoulders become stuck in the mother’s pelvic region.
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Effects of Erb’s Palsy
A child with Erb’s palsy has severely damaged brachial plexus nerves. The upper arm and shoulder become dysfunctional due to this nerve damage, causing a wide variety of movement difficulties ranging from weakness to paralysis.
Some children will lose complete use of their arm and shoulder and/or loss of feeling, preventing them from leading a normal life. While some children with Erb’s Palsy can make great progress with the help of surgery and physical therapy, other victims will go face each day with a challenging disability.
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Malpractice Leading to Erb’s Palsy
Delivery is an inherently risky event and some instances of Erb’s palsy are not preventable. However, the majority of cases result from a medical professional’s lack of competence during delivery. Experienced birth injury attorneys should have successfully handled many cases where an obstetrician or other medical professional did not order the appropriate tests, failed to identify a mother’s increased risk for shoulder dystocia, or used excessive force on a child during delivery.
Erb’s Palsy Litigation
When a doctor you trust acts erratically and diverts from the accepted standards of care for delivery, he or she can be held legally responsible for the brachial plexus injury that results. Your attorney will need to obtain detailed information about your legal rights to financial compensation and your child’s condition, including Erb’s palsy diagnosis, symptoms, and causes.
To talk to a skilled legal team about your Erb’s palsy questions, please contact the Birth Injury Lawyers Group.
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Understanding Erb’s Palsy
The nerves of the brachial plexus supply feeling and movement from their location in the neck, shoulder, arm, and hand. When there is an injury to any of these nerves, it can affect how a child uses their arm, hand, and fingers. Because Erb’s palsy (Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy) affects the nerves serving the shoulder and bicep, this is where the symptoms occur.
The symptoms of Erb’s palsy may include:
- Weakness in the shoulder and upper part of the affected arm
- Loss of feeling in the upper part of the affected arm
- Partial or total paralysis of the affected area of the arm
The severity of a brachial plexus injury depends greatly on the type of nerve injury suffered and how that injury heals. In general, there are four types of nerve injuries that can cause Erb’s palsy. Those nerve injuries include:
- Neurapraxia: a mild type of nerve injury where the nerve stretches but does not tear
- Rupture: where the nerve is torn into separate pieces
- Avulsion: where the nerve tears at the root and separates from the spinal cord
- Neuroma: where scar tissue forms during healing and causes additional pain or interference with nerve function
While each of these types of nerve injuries often receives the same conservative treatment, the severity of the injury may play a role in the child’s full recovery.
Erb’s Palsy Treatment
At-home physical therapy and other conservative treatments usually help an infant recover feeling and movement in the affected arm during the first few months of life. A physical therapist will need to teach the parents or other caregivers Erb’s palsy exercises to use with the child, usually beginning around the third week. These exercises are key to maintaining flexibility, increasing muscle strength, and ensuring a full range of motion.
In some cases, conservative treatment may not work, and the child does not regain the use of their shoulder and/or bicep. If this happens to your child, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair the nerve, such as nerve graft from another area of the body, or other surgical options.
If surgery is not a viable treatment, the doctor may prescribe physical and occupational therapy so the child can learn new ways to handle age-appropriate tasks without the use of their arm.
Long-Term Outcomes for Children Born with Erb’s Palsy
In general, most children born with Erb’s palsy have a pretty good long-term prognosis. Many heal entirely, but some continue to have problems with sensation and strength in the affected arm. Sometimes, additional complications occur. If there is scar tissue or a contracture that limits movement, your child may need surgery to repair the problem when they are older.
Erb Duchenne Palsy Is Often a Preventable Birth Injury
Erb Duchenne palsy, like other brachial plexus injuries, is often the result of medical negligence or carelessness on the part of the doctor delivering the infant. In some cases, it occurs because the doctor pulled or tugged on the baby’s arm during delivery. Erb Duchenne palsy can also occur because the baby is too large for a vaginal birth. Either of these situations may support a birth injury medical malpractice claim.
The best way to learn about your legal options if your child is diagnosed with Erb palsy is to discuss your case with an attorney who handles birth injury medical malpractice claims in your state. They can review the facts of your case and explain your options for pursuing financial compensation for your economic and noneconomic losses on behalf of your child.
Your attorney will help you build a case against the doctor, hospital, or medical care provider who caused your child’s nerve injuries. You may be able to recover compensation for damages that include:
- Medical care costs, including surgery and therapy expenses
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Pain and suffering damages
Be Aware of Your State’s Statute of Limitations on Birth Injury
There are time limits on how quickly you must act to pursue monetary compensation in a birth injury claim. These statutes vary by state. Your attorney can explain the birth injury statute of limitations and any laws that may allow you to toll the statute of limitations for a child victim in your state.
Discuss Your Case with an Attorney Near You Today
If your child has Erb’s Palsy and requires surgery or experiences lasting effects, you should consider discussing your legal options with a birth injury attorney near you today. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 222-9529 today to get started right away.