Erb’s Palsy Explained

Erb’s Palsy, which is also referred to as brachial plexus birth palsy, is a type of obstetric brachial plexus injury that can occur due to complications at the time of delivery. The brachial plexus is a system of spinal nerves that convey messages from the spine to the shoulders, arms and hands. The most typical cause of the condition is an inordinate amount of lateral traction or extension of the fetal head and neck in different directions during delivery. This is normally linked to a condition known as shoulder dystocia.

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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



Causes of Erb’s palsy
The injury resulting from Erb’s palsy most frequently takes place where the nerve roots create the trunk of the brachial plexus. The seriousness of the injury can vary from minor to medium to severe. A serious injury of this type can be permanent.

Shoulder dystocia takes place when the baby does not leave the pelvis during childbirth or labor because of a physical blockage. As a result, the baby suffers complications, including lack of sufficient oxygen, which can be fatal. The mother is then at an increased risk of contracting an infection, sustaining a rupture to her uterus or experiencing post-partum bleeding.

Dystocia occurs if the baby’s head and neck are pulled toward the side simultaneously with the passage of the shoulders through the birth canal. Other causes include extreme pulling on the shoulder during a head first delivery and strain on raised arms during a breech, or feet first, delivery. Erb’s palsy can also manifest itself in newborns afflicted with a fracture of the clavicle. This condition is not associated with dystocia.

Symptoms associated with Erb’s palsy
The brachial plexus can become so constricted that it causes stretching or rupturing when the baby’s head is pulled away toward the side. Among the symptoms of Erb’s palsy are:

Appearance of Erb’s palsy
If a newborn or infant suffers Erb’s palsy, there will likely be limited growth in the arm that was affected. All parts of the arm, from the shoulder to the fingertips, are smaller than those of the unaffected arm. The absence of development in the circulatory system can result in little or no capacity to control its temperature. This can create a problem during winter when the arm should be closely watched to make certain that the temperature of the arm does not fall too far below that of the remainder of the body.

The harm to the circulatory system also causes another issue for the arm. It diminishes the capacity of the skin to heal; thus, if cuts are not sterilized immediately, it is typical for the arm to become infected. This can be very troubling for children, who frequently hurt themselves.

Risk factors of Erb’s palsy
The risk factors for developing Erb’s palsy are:

Erb’s palsy due to medical negligence
Erb’s palsy can occur because of the negligence on the part of the physician who delivered the baby. During delivery, there are times when the baby’s shoulder is unable to move under the mother’s pubic bone. This scenario requires the doctor to manually intervene to ensure a quick delivery and avert a difficult one. However, the doctor may exert so much force in pulling the baby that the shoulder and nerves become stretched. In the event the doctor does not take needed precautions to prevent an Erb’s palsy injury to your baby, you may have a valid medical malpractice case against the doctor and hospital.

The elements of a medical malpractice lawsuit include:

It is possible for children who are afflicted with Erb’s palsy to suffer from short- or long-term lack of functionality in their arm. As a result, they may have to undergo extensive rehabilitation and surgery to combat painful symptoms. In some instances, they may never have full use of the arm.

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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