What Causes Erb's Palsy or Brachial Plexus Injury?

 Injuries that babies suffer during the labor and delivery process can lead to lifelong disabilities and extreme emotional issues for parents and caregivers. Erb’s palsy or brachial plexus injury is characterized by weakness or paralysis of the arm of the child. It often occurs during a labor and delivery that is abnormal or difficult for some reason. One out of 1,000 babies is born with Erb’s palsy, which is caused by the nerves of the infant’s neck stretching to one side during delivery. This can result in permanent nerve damage.

What is Erb’s Palsy?
Children who develop Erb’s palsy as a result of an injury suffered during birth may be permanently disabled. The paralysis caused by Erb’s palsy affects the child’s voluntary movement in the upper arm and rotation in the lower arm. The nerves of the brachial plexus run down the spine and give feeling and sensation to the arms.
These nerves also control the muscles in the shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands. So, they affect mobility. When the nerves are damaged during a complicated birth, the child’s development may be delayed. Determining the nature and severity of the damage caused by Erb’s palsy may take several months after the child’s birth.
Four Types of Erb’s Palsy Injuries
Generally speaking, there are four types of brachial plexus nerve injuries. In most of these cases, symptoms include loss of feeling and partial or complete paralysis. Neurapraxia refers to a stretch injury that shocks, but doesn’t tear the nerve. This is the most common type of Erb’s palsy injury.
Neuroma is a stretch injury that causes damage to nerve fibers, resulting in scar tissue. This scar tissue may press on the remaining healthy nerve causing a condition called neuroma. In such cases, patients may make some recovery, but very likely, not a total recovery. The injuries may also cause nerves to be torn apart or ruptured. These injuries often do not heal on their own.
An avulsion occurs when the nerve is torn from the spinal cord. Nerve ruptures and avulsions are the most serious types of brachial plexus nerve injuries. While it may be possible to surgically repair a rupture with nerve graft, it is not possible to repair an avulsion from the spinal cord.
Common Causes of Erb’s Palsy
Erb’s palsy most commonly occurs when a medical professional pulls excessively or stretches an infant’s head and shoulders during a vaginal birth. It may also occur when an obstetrician pulls on the baby’s shoulders during a headfirst delivery or puts pressure on the infant’s raised arms during a feet-first or breech birth. This typically occurs when the head or sometimes, shoulder, is stuck in the birth canal or the pelvic bone and the medical professional pull harder to get the baby out. It is common for larger babies with broad shoulders to get stuck in the birth canal.
The risk of a child developing Erb’s palsy triples if he or she develops shoulder dystocia during birth. This occurs when the infant’s head is delivered, but both of the shoulders get stuck in the mother’s womb. Other risk factors that may cause Erb’s palsy include, but are not limited to, using extraction tools (vacuum extractors or forceps) during delivery, when the second stage of labor lasts more than an hour, when the infant is larger than average, or when the mother gains excessive weight during the pregnancy, etc.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If your child has suffered a birth injury or has been diagnosed with a brachial plexus injury as a result of medical negligence, you may be able to file a birth injury lawsuit seeking compensation for damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost income and benefits, loss of livelihood, hospital and rehabilitation costs, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc.
The experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you. One of our clients secured a $2,850,000 verdict that was reduced by the appeals court to $1,850,000 because the verdict was so large. This was the highest amount upheld by the appellate courts for many, many years. In addition we recovered $1,400,000 for a newborn who lost motion in the arm during birth due to doctors applying incorrect force on the baby’s head.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
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1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES
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