What should I do if I think my baby has Erb’s palsy?

Healthcare providers may have missed signs or diagnoses, mismanaged a high-risk pregnancy, miscommunicated, failed to take the appropriate precautions, failed to deliver adequate care, or not responded with enough speed or expertise in an emergency to prevent injury. If so, that falls into the category of medical malpractice and you can hold them accountable.

Our legal team regularly handles complicated cases. We can help you understand the causes of your baby’s injuries and find the experts and specialists to support your claim, as well as determine the future impacts to your family and your baby’s lifetime care and development.

Even if it was unintentional, if a healthcare provider harmed your baby, you may have a right to receive compensation for your medical expenses, follow-on treatment or surgical expenses, adaptive learning, physical and emotional support, and much more. To assess the impact and tell your and your child’s best story, you’ll want the help of an Erb’s palsy lawyer, someone well-versed in the complexities of birth injuries.

What is Erb’s palsy?

Erb’s palsy (also called brachial plexus palsy) is a specific type of brachial plexus injury, where an injury during birth causes damage to the nerve network in the baby’s neck and shoulder. This can cause temporary or permanent damage and disability.

What causes Erb’s palsy or how does it occur?

Erb’s palsy frequently happens from injuries that occur after shoulder dystocia, where the baby’s shoulders lodge in the mother’s pelvis during a difficult birth.

If the healthcare provider—in an effort to free the trapped child—uses force or twists the baby’s head while the shoulder remains tightly lodged, it can stretch one side of the baby’s neck, injuring critical nerves that provide movement and feeling to the shoulder, arm, elbow, hand, wrist, and fingers.

What are the signs or symptoms?

Symptoms of Erb’s palsy may be temporary or permanent, but typically appear only in one arm or hand. The visual symptoms of this condition are quite recognizable. The baby’s arm will hang by its side and will rotate in toward its body, or the forearm may be extended (elbow bent) so that the arm hugs the body. The hand may be cupped and turned down and backward.

In addition, the baby may appear to have pain or difficulty moving one arm, or trouble gripping objects in the corresponding hand.

Other symptoms can include a lack of sensation in the affected limb; the inability to use certain muscles in the shoulder, arm, elbow, hand, wrist, or fingers; partial or complete paralysis; and muscle atrophy.

Are there different forms of Erb’s palsy?

Erb’s palsy is caused by nerve damage, but its form and symptoms can vary depending on the type of damage (bruising, stretching, tearing, or rupture) that happen to the nerves, as well as whether the injury happens to the upper nerves in the brachial plexus, or both the upper and lower nerves.

Is the condition treatable?

Exercise, including daily physical therapy, is usually prescribed for Erb’s palsy; this   helps maintain the child’s movement and range of motion, as well as prevents atrophy in their muscles, while the nerves recover.

Severe injuries may require surgery, including nerve grafts, or nerve or muscle transfers to help restore a level of function to the injured arm.

What are the results or long-term impacts of this condition?

With exercise and physical therapy, most babies with Erb’s palsy slowly recover, as the nerves heal.

However, permanent injury could cause a child to suffer a lifetime of pain, general loss of sensation, lack of muscle control, stiff joints, and muscle weakness or atrophy in the affected arm, or even paralysis.

If your baby has suffered a birth injury, you need an Erb’s palsy attorney who has experience with complicated cases; call (503) 203-0015 for a free consultation.

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