Understanding Erb’s Palsy or Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries

Any injury that occurs to a child at his or her birth is an immediate source of anxiety and concern to the parents. This is because, it is not immediately known whether the injury can be healed or if it will be permanent. Some birth injuries can be catastrophic, which means they have long-term consequences. The financial burden in such cases can also be huge because a parent may need to give up his or her job or career to stay home with the child as well as spend a significant amount of money for the child’s treatment and rehabilitation.

What is Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s palsy is a condition that is most often caused during childbirth because of injury to the nerves of the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that runs from the spine through the bones of the neck, down either side and out to the arm. These nerves allow the arm, hand and fingers to move and give them sensation. The nerves that run lower provide movement and sensation to the hands and fingers, and those that are higher go to the shoulder.

An injury to these nerves causes muscle weakness and paralysis in one arm. Many children have to learn to live with the damage and disabilities for life. Erb’s palsy is also known as “brachial plexus palsy” because it’s a type of palsy or weakness that arises from injury to the nerves of the brachial plexus. Erb’s palsy is characterized by paralysis, weakness, or loss of movement of the arm at birth. Erb’s palsy usually affects both the lower and upper arm. Some injuries that occur higher up in the brachial plexus only affect the upper arm and shoulder while those occurring lower down affect the hand. The latter type of injury is known as Klumpke palsy.

What Are the Symptoms

Brachial plexus injuries involve nerves around the shoulder. So, the symptoms mostly concern the infant’s movement. They can vary in severity depending on the extent and cause of your child’s birth injury. Symptoms can become apparent immediately or shortly after birth and can include the following:

• Limited movement of the affected side’s upper or lower arm or hand.
• The arm being bent at the elbow and held against the body.
• Decreased or absent grip on the injured side of the body.
• In some cases, the child’s arm may hang limp and not have any type of sensory or motor function.
• The child may also lack what is known as a Moro reflex, which is what makes infants respond with fear to feeling like they are falling.
• Abnormal muscle contractions.

Erb’s Palsy and Medical Malpractice

Some of the known risk factors for brachial plexus injury or Erb’s palsy include situations where baby is larger than usual; when the mother has a smaller-than-average pelvis; the mother has gestational diabetes; when labor is prolonged. Brachial plexus injuries can also occur when the obstetrician applies too much pressure on the infant’s shoulder during a head-first delivery, puts stress on the baby’s raised arms during a breech (feet-first) delivery or when there is shoulder dystocia (the baby’s shoulder gets stuck exiting the mother’s pelvis).

Medical professionals have a duty to monitor the mother and baby regularly and assess these types of risks so birth injuries can be prevented. A Cesarean section (C-section) is one way in which brachial plexus injuries can be prevented. For example, if a doctor knows that a baby has a larger-than-average size or that the mother has certain risk factors that may prolong labor and increase the risk, a C-section might be the best way to go. When the baby suffers a birth injury such as a brachial plexus injury because of the doctor’s or medical team’s negligence (carelessness), the injured victim may be able to seek compensation for the injuries, damages and losses sustained.

Contacting an Experienced Lawyer

If your child has Erb’s palsy because of medical negligence, he or she may be able to receive compensation for medical expenses, cost of therapy, future treatments, permanent injuries, disabilities, 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.

For over 49 years, our skilled accident attorneys have established a proven track record of helping injured victims. 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 erb’s palsy (brachial plexus 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

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 and medical malpractice 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.

Other TOLL FREE phone numbers for us are:

1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES

Please visit us at: www.WORK4YOULAW.com

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