Erb’s palsy is a medical condition that can be caused by various events that occur during labor and delivery that result in damage to nerves in the neck that control the shoulder and arms. When these nerves, known as the brachial plexus, sustain damage, it can lead to a variety of symptoms, including weakness in the shoulder and arm, a lack of sensation, and partial or total paralysis in part or all of the arm. Erb’s palsy can also affect a child’s ability to control his or her hand and/or fingers. Many children recover from Erb’s palsy over time but many are left with long-lasting complications and disabilities, even if they receive treatment.
In many cases, due to the exigent circumstances surrounding delivery – especially in cases involving unexpected developments or complications during delivery – damage to the brachial plexus can result from medical negligence or malpractice. If your child or that of a loved one was diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, call us today at (800) 222-9529 to speak with an experienced birth injury lawyer to learn more about how to file a claim, what your rights and responsibilities are, and how to get our life back and that of your injured child back on track.
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Types of Erb’s Palsy
Brachial plexus damage leading to Erb’s palsy comes in many forms, including:
- Avulsion: This is the most severe type of BP damage, and it occurs when a nerve root becomes torn from the spinal cord.
- Rupture: This is when a nerve is torn but not at where it connects to the spine.
- Neuroma: This is when a torn nerve heals but is left with scar tissue that places pressure on the injured nerve, preventing it from properly sending signals to the muscles, or at all.
- Neuropraxia: This occurs when a nerve is not torn but sustains damage via stretching.
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Diagnosing Erb’s Palsy
In order to diagnose Erb’s palsy, a doctor will have to physically examine the child and perform a number of important diagnostic tests. These tests can include all of the following:
- An MRI or CT scan to take images of the brain to identify potential damage.
- An EMG, or electromyography, that records electrical activity in muscle tissue. It can also take the form of a visual display or an audible signal that is created using electrodes that are attached to the skin or inserted into muscle tissue.
- An NCV or nerve conduction velocity test that measures the speed at which an electro-chemical impulse travels down a nerve fiber.
- An angiogram, which is an x-ray image of the blood vessels.
As is likely very clear, these types of tests can be very expensive. Doctor visits and consultations with medical specialists can also be prohibitively costly, and they also take a substantial amount of time to set up, travel to, and then undergo, all of which has real financial costs and time burdens on the patient and his or her family.
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Treating Erb’s Palsy
Depending on the type, extent, and severity of nerve damage that a child sustains, different forms of treatment may be required, including physical therapy or surgery. Surgery is sometimes required to remove scar tissue that has formed in on or on the nerves. Surgical repair can also be required to repair or reduce the pressure on nerves that were cut or torn during delivery. The longer it takes for a corrective procedure such as this to take place, the lower are the chances that the muscles affected by the injury will recover function.
Erb’s palsy injuries can be treated with surgical procedures such as the following.
This is when a segment of nerve is used to bridge an injured section of nerve. The replacement nerve serves as a track along which nerve signals can be sent down to the target area that previously could not receive impulses.
This is similar in some ways to a nerve graft but it involves taking nerves with less important roles and transferring them to restore some function in more crucial nerves that were severely damaged.
A child’s arm muscles may atrophy from a lack of use because of their Erb’s palsy, so a muscle transfer procedure may be needed to help restore blood supply to damaged muscles in the target area.
These treatments are expensive, and costs quickly add up. If you have reason to believe that your doctor or his or her medical team may have contributed to your child’s Erb’s palsy, contact us at (800) 222-9529 for a free and no-obligation consultation and for an evaluation of your options. If your case warrants a claim, we will help you file a claim and will collect the evidence needed to prove negligence on the part of the at-fault parties that inflicted damages on you.
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The Outlook of Erb’s Palsy
The outlook of Erb’s palsy depends entirely on the severity of the injuries sustained, the specific nerves that were damaged, and the ability of the infant to recover using treatments available to them. Infants who suffer torn nerves that do not heal on their own likely have no chance of recovery unless a surgical reconnection surgery is performed in a timely manner. As for children who experience less severe types of nerve damage, recovery rates vary, and the affected child may regain 90% to 100% of the function of their affected arm as long as they undergo consistent physical therapy and treatment.
Whether your child has severe or mild Erb’s palsy, and whether he or she suffers long-term or short-lived symptoms, the costs of treatment can quickly add up, even over the course of a few weeks or months. We specialize in medical malpractice cases involving birth injuries and can help you recover damages and compensation in cases where your child’s injuries were the result of negligence. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at (800) 222-9529 to learn more about your rights and responsibilities, the kinds of evidence we will collect to prove your case, how birth injury damage compensation claims are quantified, and important next steps you need to take to secure your child’s and your family’s future. Call now.