Birth Injuries and Erb’s Palsy: Causes and Treatment Options

Birth Injuries and Erb's Palsy: Causes and Treatment OptionsBirth injuries are a distressing medical event that can occur during the delivery process, potentially leading to lifelong consequences for the child and emotional distress for the family. One such birth injury is Erb’s Palsy, a condition characterized by damage to the brachial plexus nerves, which can result in weakness or paralysis of the affected arm.

Erb’s Palsy, also known as brachial plexus birth palsy, is a condition that primarily affects newborns and infants. It occurs when the brachial plexus nerves, a network of nerves located in the shoulder region, are damaged during childbirth. These nerves are responsible for transmitting signals from the spinal cord to the shoulder, arm, and hand muscles. When the brachial plexus nerves are injured, it can lead to weakness, limited range of motion, and even complete paralysis of the affected arm.

What causes Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s Palsy is commonly caused by birth complications that result in excessive stretching or tearing of the brachial plexus nerves. Several factors may contribute to this type of injury, including:

  • Shoulder dystocia. This occurs when the baby’s shoulders become lodged behind the mother’s pubic bone during delivery. A physician’s improper handling of the situation, excessive force during extraction, or failure to perform a timely cesarean section can lead to brachial plexus nerve damage.
  • Improper use of assisted delivery techniques. Misuse of delivery tools, such as forceps or vacuum extractors, can exert excessive force on the baby’s neck and shoulders, potentially injuring the brachial plexus nerves.
  • Large birth weight. Babies with macrosomia (excessive birth weight) are at a higher risk of experiencing Erb’s Palsy due to the increased difficulty of delivering their larger shoulders through the birth canal.
  • Breech presentation. When a baby presents buttocks or feet first, the risk of shoulder dystocia and subsequent brachial plexus injuries is higher.

How is Erb’s Palsy diagnosed?

The diagnosis of Erb’s Palsy is usually made shortly after birth or during the first few months of a child’s life. Signs and symptoms of Erb’s Palsy include a lack of movement in the affected arm, weakness, abnormal posture, and reduced grip strength. A comprehensive physical examination and medical history review by a healthcare professional, often in collaboration with a specialist such as a neurologist, can confirm the diagnosis and assess the severity of the condition.

What is the treatment for Erb’s Palsy?

The treatment for Erb’s Palsy typically depends on the severity of the nerve damage and the potential for spontaneous recovery. Treatment options can include:

  • Physical therapy. Physical therapy plays a crucial role in managing Erb’s Palsy. Range of motion exercises, stretching, and strengthening exercises help improve muscle strength, mobility, and function of the affected arm.
  • Occupational therapy. Occupational therapy focuses on enhancing fine motor skills, dexterity, and overall arm functionality. Techniques such as sensory integration, splinting, and adaptive equipment may be employed to support the child’s progress.
  • Surgery. Surgical intervention may be recommended in severe cases of Erb’s Palsy where nerve avulsion or rupture has occurred. Nerve grafts, nerve transfers, or muscle transfers can be performed to repair and restore function to the affected nerves and muscles.
  • Pain management. Depending on the individual case, pain management techniques such as medication, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), or other non-invasive methods may be employed to alleviate discomfort.
  • Emotional and psychological support. Erb’s Palsy can have a significant emotional impact on both the child and their family. Providing emotional support, counseling services, and connecting families with support networks can help navigate the challenges associated with the condition.

Erb’s Palsy is a birth injury that can have a profound and lasting impact on a child’s life. Understanding its causes and available treatment options is essential for affected families to make informed decisions about their child’s care. Additionally, it is important to recognize that in cases where medical malpractice contributed to the occurrence of Erb’s Palsy, legal recourse may be available to pursue compensation for the child’s injuries, medical expenses, and long-term care needs.

It is crucial for affected families to consult with professionals, including birth injury lawyers, to ensure they receive the necessary medical care, support, and guidance throughout the journey of managing Erb’s Palsy.

How can a Little Rock birth injury lawyer help?

A birth injury lawyer can help with an Erb’s Palsy claim in several ways. They can:

  • Investigate the facts of the case. The lawyer will investigate the circumstances of your child’s birth to determine if medical negligence occurred. This may involve interviewing witnesses, reviewing medical records, and obtaining expert opinions.
  • Document your child’s injuries. The lawyer will document your child’s injuries, including the extent of their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering – both now and for the rest of their life.
  • Negotiate with the insurance company. The lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company to secure you a fair settlement. If the insurance company refuses to settle, your lawyer may file a lawsuit on your behalf.
  • Represent you in court. If the case goes to trial, the lawyer will represent you in court and fight tenaciously for your rights.

If you believe that your child’s Erb’s Palsy was caused by medical negligence, you should contact an experienced birth injury lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options and can help you secure the compensation you deserve.

The attorneys at Bailey & Greer, PLLC are here to help you with your birth injury claim. We understand the particular challenges with birth injury cases and can walk you through the legal process with compassion and confidence. Our team is committed to helping you and your child secure the compensation to which you are entitled. Call our offices or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation today.