Diagnosing Erb’s Palsy

Understanding an Erb’s Palsy Diagnosis

Has your child been given an Erb’s palsy diagnosis? Learn more about what an Erb’s palsy diagnosis means for your child.

Erb’s palsy, or brachial plexus palsy, is a condition where an infant has suffered nerve damage in the part of the neck that connects to all of the nerves in the shoulder and arm.

“Palsy” means weakness, so an Erb’s palsy diagnosis is given to infants who experience varying degrees of weakness in the arm, elbow or fingers due to damage in the neck muscles. This usually happens during a difficult delivery when the baby’s neck muscles are stretched to the side.

Most babies who receive an Erb’s palsy diagnosis will eventually recover from their condition. If the nerves are simply damaged or injured, movement and feeling may eventually return to the child’s affected arm.

However, there are some cases where a baby will need surgery to repair the damage.  A diagnosis can determine what treatments will be most effective for your baby.

MRI Testing

Since infants cannot always be tested for voluntary movement of the arm and shoulder, other diagnostic methods are needed. One test used to diagnose an Erb’s palsy injury is an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).

An MRI is a medical imaging technique used to see detailed internal features.

Sometimes a physician will order an MRI if there is evidence of shoulder dislocation in the infant. An MRI can help determine if the baby needs surgery or if there is a chance the injury will heal itself.

An MRI is usually performed on children under the age of 5. If the child is 5 or over, a CT scan is used instead of an MRI. Babies and children are generally sedated before an MRI so they do not move or fuss during the procedure. An MRI can be loud, which is also why sedation and earplugs may be needed.

Author:Birth Injury Justice Center
Birth Injury Justice Center

The Birth Injury Justice Center was founded in 2003 by a team of legal professionals to educate and empower victims and families affected by birth injuries. Our team is devoted to providing you with the best resources and legal information for all types of birth injuries.

Last modified: December 4, 2018

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Birth injuries are instances of physical harm during childbirth directly caused by medical errors. There are many types of birth injuries, ranging from mild to severe. Birth injuries—may cause irreversible damage. Birth injuries are instances of physical harm during childbirth directly caused by medical errors.

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