The brachial plexus is a collection of nerves which run from the neck and
shoulders to the hands. These nerves control the muscles in the arms and
shoulders. Brachial plexus injuries may either be minor or severe, resulting
in permanent damage. They often involve stretching of a nerve, tearing
of the nerve, or severing of the nerve.
These injuries can occur during the delivery and cause a variety of symptoms.
Brachial plexus injuries which occur during birth are often known as “birth
related brachial plexus palsy” or “obstetric brachial plexus
What is Erb’s Palsy?
Considered a common type of brachial plexus injury, Erb’s plays is
a type of paralysis caused by damage to the upper trunk of cervical nerves
attached to the spinal cord. The acute symptoms of Erb’s plays are
the inability to raise the arm and to extend or turn the forearm. If left
untreated, this condition can hinder development of the affected arm,
resulting in further complications such as poor circulation, infections,
and muscle atrophy. Severe cases can lead to losing all use and feeling
in the arm.
How can a birth injury lead to Erb’s Palsy?
When it comes to birth injury, the most common cause of Erb’s palsy
is shoulder dystocia. This is the result of distress during a difficult
birth when the baby’s shoulder becomes trapped by the mother’s
pelvic bone and stretched too far during delivery.
The following are the types of conditions that can result in shoulder dystocia:
- Large babies
- Small mothers
- Prolonged labor
- Certain health conditions such as diabetes and obesity
- Strong contractions
- Underdeveloped neck and shoulder muscles
If the risk of shoulder dystocia is high, doctors typically recommend a
cesarean section (C-section) rather than a vaginal delivery to avoid potential
birth trauma. Doctors and other medical staff who fail to recognize the
symptoms of shoulder dystocia or who fail to recommend a C-section may
be held liable for medical malpractice.
What are the signs of Erb’s Palsy
The following are the most common signs of Erb’s palsy:
- Loss of sensation in the arm
- The arm cannot be raised from the side and the power to bend the elbow
is nonexistent, so the forearm cannot turn upward
- The arm is rotated toward the body and the forearm is extended and turned downward
- The affected arm may flop when the baby is rolled from side to side
- The baby is not able to grip or has issues gripping with the hand on the
Will my child get better?
Fortunately, most babies who are diagnosed with Erb’s palsy will
eventually recover from their condition. If the nerves are only damaged
or injured, your child will eventually regain movement and feeling the arm.
However, if the nerve root is cut or severed from the spinal cord—known
as brachial plexus avulsion—then your child’s injury will
not heal on their own. The torn nerve can be helped by surgery in some
cases. The operation must be performed before the baby is six months of
age or else the damage is permanent.
How much is treatment for Erb’s palsy?
While some cases of Erb’s palsy can heal on their own, many babies
will need physical therapy and even surgery, which can be quite costly.
These medical expenses can add up fast, as can ongoing care related to
the birth injury, despite the fact the child is covered by health insurance.
Should I hire a birth injury lawyer?
If your child’s condition was the result of medical negligence, you
can seek compensation to cover these costs. An attorney who has experience
handling birth injury claims will be able to help you recover the maximum
At Hare Wynn, we are committed to helping ease the financial burden on
your family and protect you and your baby’s future. Our birth injury
attorneys can develop an effective and personalized case on your behalf.
Do not hesitate to let us help get you back to the life you had planned
for you and your child.
Contact us and schedule a free consultation today.