Learn more about how to file your birth injury case for Erb’s palsy (Brachial Plexus)
Another form of traumatic birth injury that can result from medical negligence is an Erb’s palsy injury. This most often results from the physician pulling too hard on the head of the baby after a shoulder dystocia occurs. Shoulder dystocia happens when the head of the baby comes out but one shoulder becomes stuck and the rest of the baby does not spontaneously deliver.
Too many newborns are delivered each year with Erb’s palsy. In most instances, the injury is preventable if the delivering physician uses established methods of relieving shoulder dystocia, and in some cases, there are clear indications to avoid vaginal delivery if the risk of shoulder dystocia is properly identified. For example, mothers who are diabetic during their pregnancy are at increased risk of having an excessively large baby, carrying an increased risk of shoulder dystocia. So in some instances, a c-section should be offered in lieu of taking the risk of shoulder dystocia and the potential for an Erb’s palsy injury.
What is Erb’s Palsy?
Erb’s palsy, also known as brachial palsy, is a condition that is caused when the bundle of nerves around an infant’s shoulder, known as the brachial plexus, is damaged during delivery. The nerve injury can be mild, moderate, or severe and can be to one or more nerves within the bundle. The injury can result in weakness or immobility in the upper arm or in both the upper and lower arm of the infant. In extreme cases, the whole arm may be affected, including the hand. The injury is normally apparent soon after birth when the child is unable to move his/her arm, and it seems “floppy.” Anytime a shoulder dystocia has occurred, the baby should be evaluated for evidence of an Erb’s palsy injury.
What Are the Long-Term Consequences of an Erb’s Palsy Injury?
Some Erb’s palsy injuries are temporary and will resolve themselves. Other injuries are more severe and will be permanent. The degree of permanent injury may depend on obtaining prompt and appropriate medical care. It is important to follow-up with physicians trained in treating this type of injury. Not every community has appropriate medical specialists who are trained in dealing with these injuries. Often these specialists are only found at certain children’s hospitals or other large hospitals in major metropolitan areas. Since these are nerve injuries, it is possible that surgery will be required to “graft” the nerve. Physical and occupational therapies are typically prescribed. Braces are often used.
Anything that requires arm and/or hand use may be affected by these injuries. Dressing, bathing, sports, and activities of day-to-day living may be affected to varying degrees. These injuries, when permanent, may have major consequences on the ability to work in certain occupations that require upper body dexterity and movement. There may be psychological consequences as the child gets older and perceives that he is not the same as other kids his age. The affected arm may be visibly smaller than the non-affected arm, and the shoulder (scapula) may look distorted.
We Can Help
The Brad Hendricks Law Firm has helped many parents of children born with Erb’s palsy file suit on behalf of their children and themselves. These injuries can be devastating, and a child suffering from an Erb’s palsy injury may require a lifetime of help. To learn more about filing an Erb’s palsy lawsuit, call the Brad Hendricks Law Firm today at (501) 221-0444 or toll-free at (800) 603-5100. There are time limits for filing a medical malpractice case, so do not delay calling to find out if we can help your child.