An overview of Erb’s palsy

On Behalf of | May 22, 2020 | Birth Injury |

Some birth injuries occur during delivery, and one of them is called Erb’s palsy. Ohio expecting parent should know that this condition affects two out of every 1,000 babies born. Erb’s palsy is caused by damage to the brachial plexus, a network of nerves that extends from the neck to the armpit and that controls movement in the shoulder, arm and hand.

The nerves can be injured in several ways. Compression and stretch injuries (neuropraxia) are perhaps the mildest. The nerves, while remaining intact, can be damaged (axonotmesis) and cause some long-lasting issues. In ruptures, the nerve is stretched to the point of tearing. When a nerve is torn completely away from the spinal cord, it is called an avulsion.

The causes of Erb’s palsy are numerous. For example, the baby may pass through the birth canal at such an angle that the head and arm are pulled in opposing directions. The condition may arise from a breech birth. The risk for Erb’s palsy will go up if doctors must resort to forceps or vacuum extraction during delivery.

With Erb’s palsy, the baby will typically have a limp arm held close to the side and bent at the elbow. Physical therapy can be used to treat mild forms of Erb’s palsy while surgery may be necessary for ruptures and avulsions.

When babies incur birth injuries, the parents may want to speak with a lawyer about filing a medical malpractice claim, as manysuch injuries are caused by negligence on the part of the medical practitioners. It can be hard to prove negligence, though a lawyer may bring in medical experts to handle this step. The lawyer may handle all negotiations for a settlement, and if one cannot be achieved, the case could be taken to court.


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