When the nerves in the top of an infant’s neck that provide the arm with flexibility and support are damaged, disrupting the mobility of their arm, that condition is defined as Erb’s Palsy (named after the doctor who initially diagnosed it). It’s one of several conditions caused by birth injuries to an infant’s brachial plexus (the system of nerves in the shoulder and upper arm). Also known as brachial plexus birth palsy, approximately one out of a thousand babies will be born with this condition.
How does it happen?
Erb’s Palsy can occur during delivery if a baby’s neck is stretched unnaturally as the head and shoulders pass through the birth canal. It can also occur due to bodily trauma in the first few months of a baby’s life.
What are the symptoms?
Usually, the symptoms of Erb's palsy can be observed very early on, with the focus on the infant’s arm. They include:
- Your baby does not move one arm, or it appears weaker than the other one.
- That weaker arm is always held against the body with a bent elbow
- Your infant not able to grip or has very weak grasping ability in affected hand
- There is numbness in affected hand
What can I expect?
The condition causes weakness or paralysis of the arm on the affected side. Often the symptoms will improve or clear up over time, but every case is different. If the nerves in the upper brachial plexus are severely damaged, the affected arm may suffer from permanent weakness or paralysis. The prognosis depends on where the injury took place and its severity.
What can I do?
Treatments will vary depending on the circumstances. If the condition doesn’t heal on its own within six months, physical therapy or occupational therapy are often prescribed. In more severe cases, however, surgery is required to help the infant regain mobility. Studies have shown that postponing surgery for Erb’s palsy can lower the chance of success and recovery.
Since most cases of Erb’s palsy are a result of incorrect medical procedures during delivery, you are probably eligible for compensation for the pain, suffering that you and your child endured – as well as the costs of therapy or medical treatment he or she will require.
With decades of experience in personal injury law, Howie, Sacks & Henry is proud of our dedicated team of lawyers who work hard to help people and their families recover the compensation they deserve due to injury.