A parent’s love is unconditional, but they wish the best for their children, which includes good health. When a child suffers from a preventable injury and is left with physical challenges that may make the remainder of his or her life more difficult, it is imperative that the child’s parents do everything possible to provide their child with the tools that he or she need to lead a full life. Erbs palsy is a disability that often could have been prevented but for the mistake of a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional.
This condition arises out of damage to the group of nerves in the brachial plexus, which is the grouping of nerves that controls signals, and thus regulates movement, between the spine and hand. Erbs palsy is a medical condition resulting from nerve damage to those areas controlling muscles in the hands, arms, and/or shoulders. Often, injury to the nerves is the result of difficulties during the delivery of the infant. The level of disability depends on the severity of the damage to the nerves and which nerves are affected.
A child with Erbs palsy may experience the following signs and symptoms:
- Children may lose the ability to control the movement in their elbows or shoulders;
- Children may be able to move the shoulder and elbow of their arm, but have little to no muscular control over their wrists, hands, and fingers; or
- Children may lose the ability to feel in their arms, hands, and fingers.
This type of injury severely limits a child’s ability conquer tasks involving their hands and arms. Partial paralysis also may be part of the diagnosis of Erbs palsy. Depending on the nature of the injury, the damage may be temporary and heal over time, or the harm may result in a permanent injury. The good news is that the majority of children will heal in the period from several months after birth to two years. Many of these children only will require rehabilitation and therapy to recover range of motion. However, some of these children will need to continue with the therapy on an ongoing basis to maintain the full function of their arm and hand. For other children with more severe injuries, extensive surgeries may not be enough to give them back the motion and function that they have lost.
There are four injuries that often are present when there has been a diagnosis of Erbs palsy, which are:
- Temporary damage to the nerves based on stretching during the delivery process (neuropraxia) – In these cases, the nerves may be strained, but the condition is not permanent. Babies with this type of nerve damage often recover full control of muscles within a couple of years of the injury;
- Damage to the nerves that results in scarring – A more serious injury may lead to the development of scar tissue. Often, surgery is necessary in these cases to restore full motion and sensory perception to the child;
- Splitting, breaking, or tearing of the nerves may occur, which will require surgery to repair function; and
- Separation of nerves from the spine (avulsion) – This severe injury may require multiple extensive surgeries and full function may never be restored.
Many babies who are diagnosed with Erbs palsy were in the upper percentages of birth weights at the time of delivery. In addition, babies born to overweight or obese mothers are at greater risk of experiencing shoulder dystocia during delivery. This means that there was an increased risk of shoulder dystocia, where the child’s shoulder gets stuck behind the pubic symphysis bone, or pelvic bone, and there is damage to the nerves during the delivery process. It is incumbent on doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals to recognize that this may be a problem and take appropriate actions to eliminate or minimize the potential for harm to the baby. Scheduling a Cesarean section often is the correct determination under these circumstances. If they failed to do this, then they may be liable for the resulting injury.
In other cases, a doctor or other medical professional may recognize that there is a problem, but apply excessive force in getting the baby through the birthing process.
Stern Law, PLLC Advocates for Children Suffering from Erbs Palsy
A child who suffers from Erbs palsy may need a lifetime of special care and treatment or he or she may be able to recover completely from the injury with the right treatment and rehabilitation. One of the biggest challenges is obtaining the right diagnosis and pursuing the right course of treatment. In addition, it may be necessary to determine if a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional made a mistake that led to the injury. At Stern Law, PLLC, our attorney has worked for more than 30 years to get parents the answers and help that they need. Stern Law, PLLC also offers information and resources to anyone with questions about Erbs palsy, birth injuries, or other types of medical malpractice. We have knowledgeable and compassionate staff members available 24 hours per day, seven days per week, to answer questions. Call us at 1-844-808-7529 or fill out an online contact form in order to learn how we can help you get through this difficult time.