If your child has been diagnosed with Brachial Plexus Palsy (Erb’s Palsy), you may justifiably be concerned about how it affects his or her future. Brachial plexus palsy is essentially a weakness or paralysis of the shoulder and arm. It occurs most often during labor and delivery. Brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) is caused by damage to the nerves of the brachial plexus. This is a group of nerves that controls the arms from the shoulders all the way to the fingertips.
During a difficult or prolonged delivery, the nerves may get stretched, particularly if the head or shoulder gets pulled by the medical professional with excessive force. The stretching may cause anything from a mild stretch to a tear or worse. Brachial plexus palsy is more common in prolonged or difficult deliveries such as when the baby is larger than average, the mother’s birth canal is smaller, or when there is a breech presentation.
Brachial plexus injuries are also common when a doctor improperly uses birth-assistive devices such as forceps or vacuum extractors to get the baby out of the birth canal. They may occur when a child’s shoulder gets stuck in the mother’s pelvic bone as well. This is a condition known as shoulder dystocia.
Will Children Fully Recover from Brachial Plexus Palsy?
It’s difficult to say whether a child who suffers brachial plexus palsy at birth will fully recover. While in some cases the prognosis may be hopeful or encouraging, there are a number of cases where children end up suffering injuries that are lifelong and lead to disabilities that affect them every day. When a child’s nerves are severely damaged such as when the nerves are torn, the prognosis may not be favorable.
Treatment for brachial plexus palsy may be able to help improve the prognosis for a child who has suffered nerve damage, even if it may not completely cure the condition. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help your child recover some of the movement and sensation in the affected arm. This might range from gentle exercises, movement of the arm, range of motion and stretching to stimulation and massage. In some cases that are more severe, surgery may be recommended.
Living with Brachial Plexus Palsy (Erb’s palsy)
The decision to perform surgery usually comes after therapy and other interventions have failed. Surgery typically involves relieving pressure on damaged nerves or using donor nerves to graft or completely replace the injured nerves. For many children with damage severe enough to require surgery, the prognosis may not be positive because they have to deal with lifelong impairment.
Children living with Brachial Plexus Palsy (Erb’s palsy), in addition to requiring ongoing treatments and therapies, also need emotional support. Having a good support system with family and friends can be invaluable. It is also important for children living with this condition to be around others who are going through a similar experience. It can be rewarding for parents to connect with other families where children are facing similar physical challenges. You can find these networks online or through your medical provider.
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, you may be able to seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, cost of hospitalization, ongoing treatment and therapies, psychological counseling, permanent injuries, loss of earnings, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
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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