You might start to notice symptoms of Erb’s palsy in your child right away or within hours of the baby’s birth. Even if you do not recognize them, a doctor or nurse monitoring your newborn’s health should. Treatment for this type of brachial plexus nerve injury can begin in the first few weeks of life.
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You Can See Symptoms Right Away If You Know What to Look For
If you are aware of what to look for, you might start to notice symptoms of Erb’s palsy in your child from the first time you hold, feed, or cuddle your newborn. The most common symptoms of Erb’s palsy include:
- No movement in the newborn’s shoulder or upper arm
- Absent reflexes on the affected side
- Arm extended at the elbow and held close to the body
- Decreased grip in the hand of the affected arm, in some cases
If you or a medical care provider spot signs of Erb’s palsy in your child, a doctor should perform an exam. During the exam, the doctor will:
- Determine if the baby is moving the affected shoulder or arm
- Check the infant’s Moro reflex, which will be absent with Erb’s palsy
- Check the collarbone to rule out a fracture, taking an X-ray if necessary
If there is no other cause of the paralysis in the infant’s arm, the doctor will likely diagnose Erb’s palsy. If it does not improve with conservative treatment, they may perform more tests before resorting to surgery or other treatments.
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Treatment for Erb’s Palsy Begins Early
The most commonly prescribed treatment for Erb’s palsy is home physical therapy. Your doctor will teach you how to perform these exercises on your child. You can begin these a few weeks after you come home with your newborn. It is important to note these exercises do not heal the damaged nerves. Instead, the nerves heal on their own, and regular physical therapy prevents muscle atrophy, joint stiffness, and dislocation of the shoulder.
Most babies with Erb’s palsy recover on their own and do fine thanks to the support of physical therapy. Doctors, however, monitor these infants closely because surgery is occasionally necessary to repair the nerves.
Erb’s Palsy Lawsuits
Inappropriate or negligent delivery techniques employed by the doctor delivering the infant are often the cause of Erb’s palsy. It can occur as a result of pushing or pulling on the baby’s head when the shoulders are too large for the mother to deliver naturally. In many cases, a Cesarean section (C-section) may have been necessary, but the doctor failed to order it.
Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at 1-800-222-9529 to connect with a birth injury attorney in your state. Your attorney will offer a free review of the merits of your case and offer legal advice on pursuing a medical malpractice birth injury lawsuit.