Brachial Plexus Injury

Are you wondering what Erb’s Palsy actually is? If so, then let’s explain: It is an injury that involves the brachial plexus, which is the nerve network that runs from your spine into your arm, and controls your shoulder, arm, hand and fingers.

An injury to the brachial plexus can occur during childbirth, when the baby’s head is pushed up while their shoulder is being pushed down. This movement can stretch the nerves, or even sever them, as the Mayo Clinic website explains. Such an injury can interfere with or completely stop the communication along the brachial plexus. Oftentimes, Erb’s Palsy is the result of a medical error by the doctor or the midwife.

Typical: Most of the injuries are relatively mild and result in temporary paralysis, or neurapraxia. It is even possible for the infant to recover.

Rare: In serious cases of Erb’s Palsy, called brachial plexus avulsion, the nerve is torn from the spinal cord. Such a situation can happen during a difficult labor or delivery and causes the child’s arm to be limp immediately after delivery.

Other impairments or side effects, in addition to what has been mentioned above, may include:

  • Severe pain
  • Use of fingers, but not shoulder or elbow muscles
  • Use of the arm but not the fingers
  • Inability to use any part of the arm, including shoulder and hand
  • Loss of feeling in the arm or hand

Treatment

Again, children with Erb’s Palsy can recover without treatment. If the injury persists beyond the first month after birth, parents should consider having the child evaluated by specialists. The longer it takes the affected muscle to regain nerve control, the more it weakens, and the Erb’s Palsy symptoms become worse. About 10 percent of children eventually may need surgery — which doctors often perform from four to six months after birth to prevent the damage from becoming permanent.

In other cases, medical specialists will suggest a set of exercises to naturally help the infant strengthen the arm and hand.

Brachial Plexus Palsy and Legal Considerations

Did your child suffer from a birth injury that resulted in a diagnosis of Erb’s Palsy? Are you wondering about your legal options? If so, visit our Erb’s Palsy legal help page for more information.