Categorized as a brachial plexus injury, Erb’s palsy results from tearing of the nerves that are responsible for a child’s shoulder and arm movement. Many cases of Erb’s palsy are the direct result of a doctor or nurse’s mistake during the delivery process.
Negligent Causes of Erb’s Palsy
There are often conditions present during childbirth that can increase a baby’s risk of developing Erb’s palsy, such as high birth weight, obesity or diabetes in the mother, breech birth, or prolonged labor. In many of the medical negligence cases attorneys have successfully shown that Erb’s palsy could have been prevented had these risks been properly identified and managed.
A high number of Erb’s palsy cases also result from a doctor’s use of excessive force during forceps or vacuum extraction. If a physician uses undue pressure to remove the child during delivery, he or she can be held financially accountable for the arm and shoulder injuries that result.
Diagnosing Erb’s Palsy
Most cases of Erb’s palsy are diagnosed shortly after delivery. Physicians and other staff members often notice a variety of telltale signs that a brachial plexus injury has occurred, including the partial list of symptoms described in the next section.
An Erb’s palsy diagnosis will include categorization into one of the four types:
- Neuropraxia, which indicates nerve damage without tearing;
- Neuroma, which indicates scar tissue that blocks nerve function;
- Rupture, indicating tears that are not pulled from the spine; and
- Avulsion, where the nerve actually tears away from the spine.
Once the severity of the injury is evaluated, you and your medical team can begin discussing the Erb’s palsy treatment options available.
Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy
Babies with Erb’s palsy may exhibit any of the following signs of brachial plexus injury:
- Decreased hand grip or inability to grip
- Lack of movement in the hand, arm or shoulder
- Floppiness or limpness in the affected arm
- Lack of control or erratic movements in the arm and shoulder
- Failing the Moro reflex test, where a child does not stretch out the limbs after being startled
- Favoring one side
- Inability to bend the elbow
- One hand is held in the backwards position
If you have a child who has been diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, let an experienced birth injury legal team investigate your situation and help you find out what went wrong.