What is Erb’s Palsy and Erb’s Paralysis?

Erb’s palsy is a condition that is caused by an injury to the brachial plexus, which consists of the nerves around the shoulder. Erb’s palsy is also referred to as brachial palsy, Erb-Duchenned paralysis or Klumpke paralysis. The condition differs from other kinds of palsy, and is marked by frailty or lack of movement in the arm. The disorder causes different degrees of impairment, which are described by some of the other names for the condition. When only the upper arm is affected, the condition is called a brachial plexus injury.

The ailment is labeled Erb’s paralysis when it affects movement of the upper arm and rotation of the lower arm. If movement of the hand is affected, the condition is called Klumpke paralysis, in which the eyelid can hang down on the side opposite to that of the affected hand.

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Baby boy who suffered Erb’s Palsy



Child that suffered nerve injury



Baby girl who suffered Erb’s Palsy



Child birth with nerve damage



Erb’s palsy is caused by an injury to the nerves.

Each nerve in the arm is attached to a group of nerves in the neck that is called the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus nerves control the feeling in, and movement of, the arm, hand and fingers. There are many factors that can arise during a challenging delivery that can cause Erb’s palsy.

The brachial nerves can be harmed if the baby’s neck and head are pulled to the side at the time that the shoulders leave the birth canal. In addition, too much puling on the shoulders while the baby is exiting headfirst can give rise to a brachial nerve injury. In a breech birth, in which the feet exit first, the arms are normally raised, and could be harmed from an inordinate amount of pressure.

However, there are improved delivery methods that can prevent brachial plexus injuries. Babies whose weight is larger than average are at a greater risk for suffering this type of injury. Such babies are particularly at risk for a complication called shoulder dystocia, in which the infant’s head gets fastened underneath a portion of the mother’s pelvic bones. This is a challenging case for physicians to resolve. The doctor will maneuver the mother’s position in an effort to extricate the baby’s shoulder, and will change the position of the baby inside the birth canal. If these methods prove unsuccessful, surgery may be necessary.

If you think your baby developed Erb’s palsy because of the negligence of an obstetrician or other health care provider, you should call the attorneys at Chalik & Chalik. They will perform a thorough investigation, and determine whether your doctors were in violation of the acceptable standard of care.

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