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Erb’s Palsy

Kansas Medical Malpractice Attorneys Specializing in Erb’s Palsy Cases

Erb’s Palsy is a form of brachial plexus palsy. The brachial plexus (BRAY-key-el PLEK-sis) is a network of nerves near the neck that runs down the spine to the shoulder and all the nerves of the arm. These nerves provide movement and feeling to the arms, hands, and fingers. Palsy means “weakness,” and brachial plexus birth palsy causes arm weakness and loss of motion.

It is estimated that one or two of every 1,000 babies have this condition. It is often caused when an infant’s head and neck are pulled toward the side at the same time as the shoulders as they pass through the birth canal (also known as shoulder dystocia). Erb’s Palsy Injury also occurs during birth when the newborn’s shoulder gets stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone during delivery. The condition can also be caused by excessive pulling on the shoulders during a delivery, or by pressure on the raised arms during a breech.

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There are 4 Types of Erb’s Palsy:

  • Neuropraxia – This is the least severe and most common of all the brachial plexus injuries occurring outside the spinal cord. This is a “stretch injury” where the nerve is not torn but damaged by stretching. This causes a conduction block, but luckily doesn’t involve permanent structural damage to the nerve.
  • Neuroma – When an injured brachial plexus nerve tries to repair itself, it forms scar tissue around the injury and interferes with the nerve sending signals to the muscles. The scar tissue forms specifically between the proximal and distal ends of the nerve to create a neuroma.
  • Rupture – In this injury, the nerve tears outside the spinal cord causing damage to the nerve cells, and supporting blood and connective tissue. If only the nerve cells are damaged then they can fully recover and grow again.
  • Avulsion – This is the most severe type of Erb’s Palsy, which involves the nerve being completely removed and torn off from the spinal cord. It usually occurs at the nerve rootlets, or close to the spinal cord.

Erb’s Palsy is usually diagnosed by a child’s pediatrician. The symptoms become more pronounced during developmental stages when a child first begins physical movement. The following symptoms may be evident during this period:

  • Lack of muscle control and feeling in the arms or hands
  • Lack of control while moving
  • Inability to use the shoulder or elbow
  • Paralysis of the arm
  • Needs help to sit up
  • Unable to crawl

Treatment for Erb’s Palsy includes exercise, physical therapy, and even surgical intervention. Surgery can be complicated and expensive, but is an effective solution for some infants.

If you believe that your child’s birth injuries were due to the inappropriate action or negligence of your doctor, call the medical malpractice attorneys at Prochaska, Howell & Prochaska LLC to discuss your legal options. We offer free consultations. If you need Kansas medical malpractice attorneys to help you obtain the legal compensation you rightfully deserve, then please call us immediately!

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