The Erb’s Palsy lawyers and attorneys at our firm are currently offering free case evaluations to the families of children diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy. Erb’s Palsy usually occurs at birth, and leads to paralysis or weakness of a baby’s arm. Very often, the birth injury that causes Erb’s Palsy is the result of medical malpractice. Our Erb’s Palsy lawyers have helped hundreds of families obtain compensation when their baby’s injury was caused by medical negligence.
What is Erb’s Palsy?
Erb’s Palsy, which is sometimes referred to as Erb-Duchenne Palsy, is caused by a stretch injury to the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves near the neck that give rise to all the nerves of the arm. The brachial plexus is comprised of five spinal nerve roots that exit the spinal cord in the neck. These roots extend through the arm pit behind the collar bone, and then branch into nerves that enable movement and sensation of the shoulder, arm, and hand. These nerves provide movement and feeling to the arm, hand, and fingers.
Children with Erb’s Palsy can face many months of treatment, even surgery. In some cases, they may never fully regain the use of their arm. The Erb’s Palsy lawyers at our firm know the pain and suffering this disorder causes, and we have represented hundreds of victims and their families with dignity and compassion.
Erb’s Palsy Brachial Plexus Injuries
There are four types of brachial plexus injuries:
- Avulsion: When a nerve is torn from the spine. This is the most severe Erb’s Palsy injury.
- Rupture: A nerve is torn, but not at the location of spinal attachment.
- Neuroma: A nerve is torn, the tear has healed, and the scar tissue places pressure on the injured nerve, preventing the nerve from conducting signals to the muscles.
- Neuropraxia: Also known as “stretch,” involves damage, but not a tear, to the nerve. This is the most commonly seen brachial plexus injury.
Erb’s Palsy Symptoms
Erb’s Palsy is typically discovered following birth due to any of the following Bel’s Palsy symptoms:
- The baby’s inability to move his/her arm or shoulder
- The baby’s arm is bent inward, toward the body
- The arm presents with weak or no reflexes
- There is no feeling or sensation in the arm or hand
- Limp, paralyzed arm
- Lack of muscle control in the arm, hand, or wrist
Causes of Erb’s Palsy
Erb’s Palsy usually occurs when a baby’s shoulder becomes stuck on the mother’s pelvic bone. This can happen during a difficult delivery, such as with a large baby, a breech presentation, or a prolonged labor. This may also happen when the person assisting the delivery must deliver the baby quickly and exert some force to pull the baby from the birth canal. If one side of the baby’s neck is stretched severely, the nerves may also be stretched, causing the injury. The use of forceps, vacuum, or other tools to aid the baby through the birth canal may also increase the chance that a baby will suffer from Erb’s Palsy. Some studies have also found a an association between some drugs used to induce labor and Erb’s Palsy. However, Erb’s Palsy can also occur when conditions are optimal and a birth appears to proceed with no complications.When Erb’s Palsy is a potential complication of delivery, doctors may use many different procedures to dislodge the baby’s shoulder so that the baby can safely pass through the birthing canal. In some cases, the doctor can reposition the mother, or the doctor can use his or her hands to maneuver and change the position of the baby. In particularly dangerous and difficult births, the doctor can break the baby’s clavicle bone on purpose, break the mother’s pelvic bone, or perform an emergency C-section.
When doctors fail to take the necessary precautions to avoid an Erb’s Palsy injury—such as waiting too long to perform a needed C-section, or using too much force when using forceps—there might be a case for medical malpractice. Our Erb’s Palsy lawyers possess a vast amount of knowledge about this disorder, and can help you determine if your baby’s injury was the result of medical malpractice.
Erb’s Palsy Treatment
About one or two newborns out of every 1,000 will suffer Erb’s Palsy. Most cases of Erb’s Palsy will resolve themselves before a baby is a year old. However, about 10 percent of children require exercise, therapy and, in the most severe cases, Erb’s Palsy surgery. Even with the best treatment currently available, the most severely injured children will have substantial, lifelong, and functional limitations with regard to use of the affected arm and/or hand. There are several options for treating Erb’s Palsy when it does not resolve itself. Children who undergo these treatments and their families are entitled to compensation for medical bills, as well as pain and suffering, if the injury is the result of medical malpractice. If this is determined to be the case, our Erb’s Palsy lawyers will do everything in their power to see that our clients receive the compensation they deserve.Most babies with Erb’s Palsy will undergo non-surgical treatment first. Daily physical therapy and range of motion exercises, done as often as possible during the day, begin when the baby is about three weeks old. The exercises will maintain the range of motion in the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand. This will prevent the joint from becoming permanently stiff, a condition called a joint contracture.
Erb’s Palsy Surgery
If there is no change over the first three to six months, the doctor may discuss exploratory surgery on the nerves to improve the potential outcome. Nerve surgery will not restore normal function, and is usually not helpful for older infants. Because nerves recover very slowly, it may take several months, or even years, for nerves repaired at the neck to reach the muscles of the lower arm and hand. In all Erb’s Palsy cases, the location and the type of brachial plexus injury determines the prognosis. Specifically, there is no potential for recovery of Erb’s Palsy in the cases of avulsion and rupture injuries without early Erb’s Palsy surgery that involves nerve reconnection.Even with surgical intervention, many children with Erb’s Palsy will continue to have some weakness in the shoulder, arm, or hand. There may be surgical procedures that can be performed at a later date that might improve function, such as muscle and tendon transfer surgery to improve function or joint fusion surgery.
Our Erb’s Palsy lawyers will make sure that any medical malpractice settlement or reward includes payments for future treatment and therapies, as well as pain and suffering.
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