Brachial Plexus Palsy – Erb’s Palsy

Brachial plexus palsy can be caused by improper care during delivery. It can also be called a brachial plexus injury. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves. There are two networks of nerves, each located on either side of the body above the waist. They branch out like trees. On the right and on the left, five sets of “root” nerves start at the spinal cord near the base of the neck. These roots then merge into three “trunks,” upper, middle, and lower. More nerves branch out from the trunks. They regroup into thick strings called cords. The cords branch into even more nerves. Thus the brachial plexus controls the shoulder, arm, elbow, wrist, hand and fingers.

Brachial Plexus Palsy Causes

Brachial plexus palsy is often caused by a birth injury called shoulder dystocia. This happens when the newborn’s shoulder becomes lodged under the mother’s pelvic bone. If too much pressure is applied to the baby’s head or neck, stretching of the nerves in the neck can occur. A newborn’s nervous system is not yet fully developed. When the delicate nerves in the plexus are stretched, squeezed, or torn, they are easily damaged. Brachial plexus palsy is the result.

Erb’s Palsy Treatment

Erb’s Palsy is the most common kind of brachial plexus palsy. It involves the uppermost part of the nerve network. Treatment depends on the type of injury and whether the nerve is merely stretched or completely torn. If they are stretched, they may not transmit signals, but eventually can heal. With mild Erb’s Palsy, treatment is to closely monitor the problem until it is clear whether or not surgery may be beneficial. The most severe type of injury is when the nerve is completely torn. According the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the longer it takes a muscle to regain nerve control the more it withers, and symptoms of brachial plexus palsy can get worse. If the symptoms remain, surgery to reconstruct or reconnect the nerves should take place by the first birthday to yield the best results.

Brachial Plexus Palsy and Legal Considerations

If your baby or young child has brachial plexus palsy or Erb’s Palsy, think back to your delivery. Medical negligence can happen, especially if birth was not easy. If you have doubts, call us. We have experienced Erb’s Palsy attorneys and nurse case managers ready to help you.  An Erb’s Palsy lawsuit can result in a settlement that can help with the costs of care and rehabilitation.