Between one and two births out of every 1,000 results in the birth injury Erb’s palsy. This debilitating condition can result in permanent damage for some, leaving them unable to control various muscles in their hands and arms. These preventable birth injuries are often caused by medical negligence.
In the majority of cases, Erb’s palsy and other brachial plexus injuries are the results of trauma to the upper arm and shoulder areas. These injuries often occur during long and difficult deliveries. Erb’s palsy affects much of the upper half of the brachial plexus region and causes severe weakness or even paralysis in the arm on the side affected.
When babies suffer these injuries, as a result of careless medical care, families should reach out to a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Families may be entitled to compensation to help cover the costs of therapy and other medical treatments babies will need in order to address these injuries.
The Malpractice Group has extensive experience helping families across the state get the justice they deserve after babies sustain birth injuries. We provide aggressive legal representation to ensure families are in the best position possible to move forward. Contact our medical malpractice attorneys at your earliest convenience to see how we can help you.
What is Erb’s Palsy?
Erb’s palsy is a medical condition that results from injuries to the upper arm region during childbirth. These injuries are seen in many cases where the birth and labor processes were prolonged. Erb’s palsy injuries occur when pressure stretches the neck and head regions of an infant too far to one side as the shoulders emerge through the mother’s pelvic region. These injuries can be caused by undue force during delivery. In some cases, these injuries can result in permanent paralysis.
Children born with Erb’s palsy have incredible difficulties controlling their shoulder, arm, and hand on the affected side. Although this condition can resolve on its own when the injuries are minor, many babies require extensive therapy and other treatments to gain strength and mobility.
Types of Brachial Plexus Injuries
Brachial plexus injuries can be serious in nature, especially if they are not accurately diagnosed and treated. Erb’s palsy is an injury that can negatively impact a child’s ability to use their arm, shoulder, and hand. There are four types of brachial plexus injuries that can impact children in a variety of ways. The four types are:
Neuropraxia: This injury occurs when there is stretching in the brachial plexus area. These injuries can range from mild with early recovery to injuries that result in total paralysis with no chances of recovery. This is dependent upon the amount of stretching that occurs.
Neuroma Injuries: These injuries involve scar tissues that develop along the injured nerve after it tries to heal itself. These injuries can cause compression to the nerves, which prevents them from working accurately.
Rupture Injuries: Rupture injuries occur when the nerve is torn at several locations. These injuries require surgery and therapy to restore function to the impacted area.
Avulsion Injuries: These injuries occur when the nerves are pulled away from the spinal cord. This is the most severe type of brachial plexus injury. Avulsion injuries often require extensive surgery and long-term treatment.
Erb’s palsy is difficult to diagnose. Sometimes the nerves may be injured while suffering from another condition. Not receiving an accurate diagnosis and being denied treatment can have a damaging impact on a child’s ability to adequately recover.
If your child has Erb’s palsy and you believe that it was caused by a doctor, nurse, or other health care provider failing to provide adequate care during pregnancy, labor, or delivery, you should reach out to an attorney immediately. An Erb’s palsy attorney will help to discern whether your child suffered these injuries as a result of a health care provider’s reckless or negligent actions. Families may be entitled to compensation to help alleviate the financial burdens related to medical treatment, pain and suffering, lost wages, and various other damages.
The Effects of Erb’s Palsy and Nerve Injuries
Erb’s palsy is an injury in the brachial plexus, which is the network of nerves that control movement and sensation in the arms, hands, and shoulders of infants. When these nerves suffer injuries or strain, they make it nearly impossible for babies to properly use the impacted regions. When the lower nerves are damages in addition to the brachial plexus injuries, the condition known as global brachial plexus birth palsy occurs.
Not only do injuries like Erb’s palsy impact a child’s ability to use their affected side, but it can halt the normal growth of the limb. Arms on the side affected by Erb’s palsy tend to be smaller, weaker, and have fewer feelings than those not impacted by these injuries. In some cases, partial or total paralysis is possible.
Treatment Options for Erb’s Palsy
There are a variety of treatment options available to help babies and small children recover from the effects of Erb’s palsy. The severity of the nerve damage plays a large role in determining the appropriate treatment option and whether or not it will work. Those who suffer from this condition should seek a qualified doctor or specialist who can evaluate the injuries and determine what treatment is best for them. Unfortunately, many primary care physicians overestimate the potential for babies recovering, which can cause detrimental delays in treatment, anxiety, and the long-term impacts of the injury.
Treating Erb’s palsy and other injuries like brachial palsy in newborns is the most successful route. Beginning treatment as soon as possible after birth. If the injuries are addressed within three months of age, they have the best chances of recovering. Roughly 12% of children with these injuries at age 3-years or above have long-standing functional impairments as a result of these injuries.
Some effective methods for treating children with Erb’s palsy or other brachial injuries include:
Physical Therapy: In cases where children suffer injuries as a result of stretching nerves, they may be able to receive various types of therapy. Sensory stimulation, range of motion exercises, and strength exercises are some effective methods that children can do in offices and at home with their families.
Hydrotherapy or Occupational Therapy: Children with mild or moderate nerve damage can benefit greatly through hydrotherapy and occupational therapies.
Surgery: In cases where children suffer severe nerve damage, they may have to undergo surgical interventions. This option is particularly useful in cases where children suffer nerve tearing or splitting from their injuries. Surgery can also be useful when therapeutic measures are not progressive. Surgery can include nerve decompression or nerve graphs.
Most of these treatment options come with enormous costs. Not only do they take immense financial investment, but they also require time commitments. When babies suffer injuries, due to the negligence of medical professionals, families should contact an Erb’s palsy attorney to discuss legal options available for them.
The Long-Term Effects of Erb’s Palsy on Children
Erb’s palsy can have a detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of children. Although there are no residual impacts on children who receive timely and adequate medical treatment, there are some instances where children do sustain life-altering injuries. Some of the long-term effects of Erb’s palsy include:
- Weakness in the arm on the side of the injury.
- Difficulties moving the shoulder and elbow joint in a circular motion.
- Contractures of the joints on the affected side.
- Decreased range of motion in all affected joints.
- Changes in sensitivity that may result in increased or decreased sensation.
- Pain and/or discomfort in the arm and shoulder.
Failure to diagnose and treat Erb’s palsy can have a negative impact on a child’s life. These impacts can range in severity and may last for the rest of their lives. If your child has Erb’s palsy, and you believe medical malpractice is the cause, contact our Erb’s palsy attorneys at your earliest convenience to discuss legal options available for you.
The Malpractice Group Can Help You
Erb’s palsy is a debilitating birth injury that has long-term impacts on the health and wellbeing of babies. Numerous babies suffer these devastating injuries as a result of medical negligence. If your baby suffered devastating birth injuries, and you believe medical negligence played a critical role, it is crucial that you reach out to a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to explore legal options available for you.
Working with Erb’s palsy lawyers from The Malpractice Group is a victim’s best bet for getting the justice and compensation they deserve after suffering at the hands of a medical professional’s negligence. Our team fights to ensure families are able to move forward and their traumatic experience and get the medical treatment necessary. Contact our medical malpractice attorneys at (312) 561-4324 at your earliest convenience to see how we can help you.