Erb’s palsy is not a form of cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is caused by a damaged neurological system, whereas Erb’s palsy is caused by trauma to the brachial plexus nerves surrounding the shoulder. Specifically, patients with Erb’s palsy demonstrate weakness or paralysis of the arm. The level of impairment varies from person to person and is usually designated along the following lines:
- Brachial plexus injury: A condition where only the upper part of the limb is affected
- Erb’s paralysis: Movements of the upper arm and rotation of the lower arm are affected
- Klumpke paralysis: Nerve damage affects the hand and may also cause the eyelid on the opposite side of the affected hand to droop
Causes of Erb’s palsy
According to the National Institute of Health, between one and two babies out of 1,000 are born with Erb’s palsy. The injury is usually caused by complications from an abnormal or difficult delivery in one of three ways:
- A baby’s head is pulled to the side as the shoulders pass through the birth canal
- Excessive pulling on a baby’s shoulders
- A breech (feet forward) delivery where the arms are raised and endure too much pressure
The risk of Erb’s palsy is greater for large babies, babies whose mother is short, have gestational diabetes or an abnormal pelvis, or those who endure a long labor.
Treatment of Erb’s palsy
Many children with Erb’s palsy are able to recover without surgery, although they may require physical therapy. Nerves that suffer severe damage may need to be surgically repaired and occasionally, a tendon transplant is necessary. It can take years for nerves to fully heal and occasionally, the arm will never completely recover.
Erb’s palsy litigation
Because Erb’s palsy is almost always caused by a birth injury, it is often preventable. Doctors should be aware of a large baby and take steps to prevent a difficult birth, such as performing a Caesarean section. A doctor should also be aware that a mother with gestational diabetes is more likely to have a large baby and plan accordingly.
Even when a doctor has no reason to suspect a large baby, they should be prepared to deal with one without causing injury. If your child was born with Erb’s palsy and you believe it was caused by an improper delivery, you may be eligible for an Erb’s palsy lawsuit.
Our lawyers have proven success in Erb’s palsy litigation
Doctors are held to a high level of professional competence. Even a small error on their part can be construed as medical malpractice. The Erie birth injury attorneys at The McClelland Law Group know how a single mistake can affect your family forever.