Brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) is unfortunately a somewhat common medical condition affecting newborns. According to statistics, Brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) occurs in at least one in 1,000 births in the United States. While the seriousness of this condition may vary from case to case, it is a sad reality that a number of children suffer from lifelong disabilities as a result of brachial plexus palsy. Even though the severity of the injury and duration of the symptoms are dependent on the extent of the original injury, treatments and therapies that are administered can help make a difference in long-term outcomes.
Understanding brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy)
The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that runs between the spinal cord and the arm, controlling the muscles of the shoulder, arm, hand and fingers. If these nerves are injured during labor and delivery, it may result in long-term damage to the arm. Injuries can occur during birth if the infant’s neck or arm is pulled or if the shoulder gets stuck in the mother’s pelvis during delivery.
These complications may strain the nerves as the obstetrician pulls to free the child from the birth canal. In such cases, when the nerves of the brachial plexus are stretched or torn, the prognosis for recovery is often unfavorable. Nerves that are stretched may develop scar tissue, which means that the recovery may be incomplete. Tears in the nerves of the brachial plexus may result in permanent injuries such as inability to move the arm or shoulder, paralysis of the arm, pain, weak reflexes and lack of sensation in the affected arm. This condition may also result in muscle atrophy.
Long-Term effects of brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy)
There is no question that brachial plexus palsy may leave a child with long-term injuries and impacts. Here are some long-term effects of brachial plexus injuries:
Nerve damage: The damage to nerves affects the muscles of the affected part. This means that a child with brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) will experience decreased strength in the affected shoulder, arm and even the hand. Muscles will not perform as they should. You may even be able to see a difference in the size and shape between a child’s healthy arm and the affected arm.
Nerve function: Because nerves are extremely important for sensation and movement, nerve damage will affect a muscle’s growth and functionality. While surgery may restore some of this functionality, there are limitations in how successful surgery can be. In many cases, loss of nerve function is permanent.
Bones and joints: Since muscle growth also stimulates bone growth, a child who has reduced nerve and muscle function will also experience reduced bone growth. This can also affect movement and strength. Brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) can affect joint function as well. Those with brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) may be more susceptible to arthritis in adulthood due to the abnormal wear and tear on the joints.
Mental health: A child with brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) may feel isolated from his or her peers because of physical limitations. This may affect the child psychologically in many ways and may even cause conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If your child has brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy), he or she may be able to receive compensation that may help pay for medical expenses, lost income, cost of therapy, future treatments, 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 $1,846,000 because the verdict was so large. This was the highest amount upheld by the appellate (appeals) 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. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.
We have seen many cases where New York City Health and Hospital Corporation facilities deliver babies who are born with cerebral palsy or brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) stemming from negligence (carelessness), and/or medical malpractice in the labor and delivery etc. of the children.
The following list identifies some of these hospitals (operated by New York City Health and Hospital Corporation):
• Jacobi Hospital aka Bronx Municipal 1400 Pelham Parkway South Bronx, New York 10461 718-918-5000
• Lincoln Hospital 234 East 149th Street Bronx, New York 10451 718-579-5000
• North Central Bronx Hospital 3424 Kossuth Avenue Bronx, New York 10467 718-519-5000
• Coney Island Hospital 2601 Ocean Parkway Brooklyn, New York 11235 718-616-3000
• Kings County Hospital 451 Clarkson Avenue Brooklyn, New York 11203 718-245-3131
• Woodhull Hospital 760 Broadway Brooklyn, New York 11206 718-963-8000
• Bellevue Hospital 462 First Avenue New York, New York 10016 212-562-5555
• Harlem Hospital 506 Lenox Avenue New York, New York 10037 212-939-1000
• Metropolitan Hospital 1901 First Avenue New York, New York 10029 212-423-6262
• Elmhurst Hospital 79-01 Broadway Elmhurst, New York 11373 718-334-4000
• Queens Hospital Center 82-68 164th Street Jamaica, New York 11432 718-883-3000
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