What Is Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s palsyWhen your baby is healthy prior to birth, hearing a doctor tell you something has gone wrong is a huge shock.

Erb’s palsy is a common birth injury that can leave a child with permanent disabilities. One to two babies in 1,000 will suffer some form of Erb’s Palsy.

If your child has been diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, contact a Jacksonville birth injury lawyer right away.

Brachial Plexus Injuries at Birth

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, Erb’s Palsy is a type of brachial plexus injury. The brachial plexus is actually a network of nerves around the neck that controls the function of the arm and allows an individual to feel sensation in the shoulder, arm, hand, and fingers.

Brachial Plexus InjuryThe condition is named after the German neurologist, Wilhelm Erb, who first described it in the late 1800s.

Erb’s Palsy can occur in several ways during childbirth. The condition can happen when a baby’s neck is stretched abnormally to the side while exiting the birth canal.

This happens often in cases involving shoulder dystocia, when a baby’s shoulders have difficulty clearing the mother’s pubic symphysis and must be manipulated during the birth.

Babies may also suffer clavicle fractures during delivery – an injury that tends to be accompanied by an Erb’s Palsy diagnosis. Erb’s Palsy can also happen during cesarean section, although this is uncommon.

Risk factors for Erb’s Palsy include a large baby and mothers with gestational diabetes. Other factors that increase the risk of Erb’s Palsy include a prolonged labor, breech (feet-first) presentation, delivery with instrumentation, and a rapid delivery when the baby is in distress.

When a baby suffers this type of birth injury, the C5 and C6 cervical roots are damaged. In certain cases, the C7 nerve root may also suffer damage. Rarely, the C3 and C4 nerve roots suffer injury.

Fortunately, between 80 to 96 percent of Erb’s Palsy cases resolve completely with treatment, and babies have a greater likelihood of recovery when therapy and treatment are started within two weeks of the injury.

Treatment Options for Erb’s Palsy

In a small number of cases, however, a baby suffers a long-term or lifelong injury due to Erb’s Palsy. Some babies get better with surgical intervention, but they may never fully recover the use of their arm.

Children with more severe Erb’s Palsy may always have a weak arm, and many cannot raise their arm above their head without difficulty or resorting to “throwing” their up arm forcefully.

Children with the condition may also have an arm that is noticeably smaller than the other, as the nerve damage prevents the affected arm from developing normally.

When babies show no improvement by six months of age, doctors may suggest trying surgical intervention. Surgical techniques include nerve grafts and nerve transfers in an attempt to restore nerve function to the area.

Children who undergo these surgeries must often spend months and years undergoing physical therapy.

If your child has Erb’s Palsy, you may be entitled to compensation. The cost of therapy and other treatments can be a significant drain on your resources.

Speak to a birth injury lawyer to see if you qualify for damages that can help you get the intervention your child needs.

Don’t Wait! Call a Jacksonville Birth Injury Attorney Today

If your baby suffered a brachial plexus injury at birth, or any other kind of birth injury, it’s important to speak to a lawyer right away. A Jacksonville birth injury attorney can help you determine the best approach in your case.

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