What is Erb's Palsy?

Erb's palsy is a type of paralysis in the arm that is caused by an injury to the brachial plexus. The term brachial plexus refers to the main network of nerves that run from the tips of the fingers to the length of the spine. Erb's palsy may be a result of negligence or medical malpractice at the time of giving birth to the affected child.

Common Causes of Erb's Palsy:

  1. Dystocia – This condition occurs when the baby's head and neck are dropped to the side and passed through the birth canal the same time with the shoulders during deliver
  2. Vertex delivery – This condition occurs when the shoulders are dropped on excessively during childbirth with the head first.

4 Types of Injuries on Brachial Plexus

  1. Avulsion – Erb's palsy occurs when a nerve attached to the spine is torn.
  2. Rupture – a nerve is ripped of but not where it attaches to the spine.
  3. Neuroma – a scar on tissue has grown and hardened around the injured nerve; thus, reducing or blocking the signals sent by the brain to the muscles.
  4. Praxis or Neuropraxia – when the nerve has been damaged but not torn. These are just minor injuries that usually heal on their own within 3 months.

Treatment of Erb's Palsy

The extent of paralysis can be partial, temporary, complete, and permanent. Erb's palsy can either be cured through physical therapy or special surgery. The paralysis may also be resolved on its own after a period of time.

3 Common Treatments:

  1. Nerve transfers – The nerve transplants are recommended on infants under 9 months old because younger babies developed faster than the older ones.
  2. Subscapularis releases – This can be done at any age. A 'Z' shaped cut is made into the subscapularis muscle to let the arm stretch.
  3. Latissimus Dorsi tendon transfers – The Latissimus Dorsi is cut horizontally in order to pull a muscle around and attach it to biceps.

All cases of Erb's palsy should be evaluated at the earliest stage to determine the best and most effective option of treatment. Erb's palsy can not be invented but the risk can be reduced by a good medical judgment and adherence to standards of medical care.

However, hospital staff makes mistakes at times. Errors can occur due to inadequacy of training and lack of sensible judgment in some cases; but in other cases, mistakes are caused by total negligence. Even though not intentional, any mistake done in the delivery room may lead to unsuccessful consequences due to injuries, repeating or not, disclosed on the victim. The victim is entitled to take legal actions.

When Erb's palsy of your baby occurred during childbirth because excessive force was used to pull out the baby, especially when using forceps or vacuum extraction procedure or you think that carelessness or unprofessional conduct of the medical personnel may be to blame for your child's having an Erb's palsy, contact an Erb's palsy lawyer.