Questions about Erb’s Palsy

What Is Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s palsy is a disability disorder caused by an injury to the brachial plexus during a baby’s birth. The brachial plexus is a “bundle” of nerves, originating from the spinal cord and located between the neck and shoulder. The result of damage to this nerve set can be as severe as paralysis in the arm, shoulder or hand.

Erb’s palsy, also known as brachial plexus paralysis, is considered a serious birth injury, just as cerebral palsy is considered a birth-related condition.

What Causes Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s palsy is usually caused by a stretching of the brachial plexus nerve fibers as a baby’s head and shoulder are moved in opposing directions during delivery. Medical malpractice has been shown to play a role in the development of Erb’s palsy in some cases, including these types of situations:

  • Failure of doctor to accurately estimate the baby’s size before labor begins
  • Failure to schedule a C-section for mothers who have risk factors, such as a previous infant with a brachial plexus injury or a small mother with a large infant
  • Use of unnecessary or excessive force during delivery
  • Failure to recognize a breech-positioned baby prior to labor and delivery
  • Inappropriate use of forceps or vacuum extraction
  • Allowing a troubled delivery to go on for too long or delaying the decision to perform a C-section for too long

What Are the Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy?
A child with Erb’s palsy may exhibit some or all of the following signs:

  • Inability to move the shoulder, arm, wrist or hand (paralysis)
  • Numbness or no feeling at all in the hand, arm or shoulder
  • Decreased or lack of muscle control in the shoulder, arm, wrist or hand
  • Limpness in the hand, wrist or arm (baby appears “floppy” on one side)
  • Paralysis on one side of face
  • Inability to sit up or crawl without assistance (in an older infant)

What Are the Treatments Available for Erb’s Palsy?

Early diagnosis of Erb’s palsy is essential to give a baby the best prognosis for injury recovery and reduced disability later in life. Treatment options can include physical therapy, nerve grafting, and surgery on the nerves, tendons and muscles in the injured area.

What Should I Do If I Suspect My Child’s Erb’s Palsy Was Caused by Medical Malpractice?

Don’t wait any longer to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to discuss your case. (There are statutes of limitations involved in medical malpractice cases.) You may also find the online resources available from Salt Lake City, Utah’s Erb’s palsy lawyers at G. Eric Nielson & Associates, LLC.