Brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) is a disability that affects the nerves and muscles in the neck, shoulder and arms. This is a disability that is not caused by a disease or a birth defect, but by traumatic injury, often during labor and delivery. In many cases, medical negligence (carelessness) is linked to the injuries that children suffer at birth.
Understanding Brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy)
Erb’s palsy or brachial plexus palsy is a type of paralysis or weakness in the muscles of the arms. This may occur in one of the arms as the result of a stretched or severed nerve in the neck. Here are the most common types of Brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy):
Neuropraxia: In these cases, the nerve is pulled or stretched. This is considered a relatively milder type of palsy, but it can still require therapy.
Neuroma: This occurs when the nerve is stretched to such an extent that the nerve fibers break. Because of the scar tissue that forms as the breaks heal, the nerve may cause pain. Such injuries may never fully heal.
Ruptures: This type of injury occurs when the nerve is torn in half. Since such an injury will not heal on its own, surgical intervention may be needed. Without such treatment, the arm may become permanently paralyzed.
Avulsion: This type of nerve injury occurs when the nerve is ripped from the spinal cord. This may leave the child with permanent injuries and disabilities.
How Does Erb’s Palsy Affect Your Child’s Life?
The symptoms of Erb’s palsy or brachial plexus palsy might vary depending on the extent of the injury. Some typical symptoms of this condition for infants include the arm hanging by the side of the body; a weak arm lacking grip strength; restricted development of the muscular, nervous and circulatory systems; numbness of the arm; limited motion in the shoulder, arm and wrist; complete paralysis of the arm.
A birth injury is one of the most common causes of Brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy). For example, when the baby’s shoulder gets stuck in the mother’s pelvis or if the baby comes out feet-first (breech birth) instead of head-first, the resulting complications may result in traumatic injuries to the nerves of the brachial plexus. When an incompetent or inexperienced doctor pulls too hard or uses birth-assistive tools such as forceps with too much force, this may cause serious injuries to the baby as well.
Erb’s palsy or brachial plexus palsy may have a lasting impact on your child’s life. Some limitations your child may experience include:
Participation in sports: If your child’s arm is paralyzed due to brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy), it may stop your child from participating in sports, especially those that require the use of both arms.
Career prospects: If a certain job requires arm strength to perform well, your child may be limited in that regard.
Social implications: Growing up with brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) may also potentially affect your child’s social life. Teasing or bullying in school may affect your child psychologically. It is important parents talk to teachers, school officials and seek out support groups that can help them and their child cope with these limitations.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
The costs of caring for a child with brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) can add up very quickly. If your child’s injury was caused by medical negligence (carelessness), you may be able to seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, cost of hospitalization, ongoing treatment and therapies, psychological counseling, 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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