Erb’s Palsy is nerve damage, resulting in paralysis. Birth injuries resulting in Erb’s Palsy can occur, due to damage caused to a group of nerves known as the brachial plexus. Paralysis from this nerve injury can affect the shoulder, arm and hands, and can vary greatly in severity. If this injury occurs, there are obvious signs. These include a loss of feeling and an inability for the baby to move the affected arm. The injured baby’s arm also hangs and appears twisted around.
Brachial Plexus Nerves
The brachial plexus is a group of nerves – cervical (neck) nerves C5 through C8, and a thoracic (chest) nerve, T1 – that begins at the spinal cord and pass through the shoulder, then down the length of the arm. Each of these nerves in the group contains small nerve fibers, surrounded by layers of tissue.
The brachial plexus nerves exit the spinal cord through a vertebral opening, then wind down from the side of the neck just underneath the collarbone. From there they branch out through the arm – each controlling various arm and hand movement, as well as finger sensation.
Causes of Infant Brachial Plexus Injuries
This injury to infants most often occurs as a result of a difficult birth. These difficulties include prolonged labor, breech deliveries, and large infant deliveries. Injuries to the brachial plexus nerves can occur if they become stretched or bruised during the baby’s delivery.
This birth injury can happen in the normal course of delivery with difficult births, or as a result of being pulled to hard by the medical professionals handling the delivery. Another common cause of this injury is aggressive use of forceps that can pull the head and stretch (or sever) the nerves in the shoulder.
Symptoms and Treatment for Erb’s Palsy
Nerve injuries have two common symptoms – loss of sensation or feeling in the injured area, and paralysis of varying severity. The least severe infant injury can include shock to the nerves not evidenced by tearing. This situation usually is resolved as the infant grows. If the brachial plexus is torn, or ruptured, healing is much more difficult and can require neurosurgery involving grafting to repair the damaged nerves. The most severe situation includes nerves completely fractured from the spinal cord, with damage in most cases permanent.
Physiotherapy can be performed for regaining muscle use for Erb’s Palsy patients, but generally if recovery isn’t achieved within a year, there is a greatly diminished possibility of success due to muscle atrophy and arthritic damage.
Contact Us for More Information
Our attorneys are experienced with medical negligence cases and understand the course of action to be taken with this type of medical injury. If you or your family has a child with Erb’s Palsy, and medical malpractice could be the cause of the injury, please contact us for a no-obligation review.
At Hogan Frick, we fight for justice and compensation for injured victims.