What is Erb’s Palsy? It is another form of the more well-known cerebral palsy? Not quite.
Instead, Erb’s Palsy refers to a weakness or paralysis of the arm–usually caused by damage to a nerves on the neck and arms. Birth complications and excessive force are common factors in these cases. Erb’s Palsy is often referred to by other names, like Klumpke’s Palsy or a brachial plexus injury. In all cases, however, the underlying damage is similar–physical harm that may cause lifelong complications for the child for the rest of their life.
What causes Erb’s Palsy?
The harm is caused during the birthing process. It refers to cases where there is damage to the nerve tissue (brachial plexus) at the upper arm and shoulder. The scope of the damage to the nerve bundle can vary, which affects the ability to correct the problem and the chance that the injury will last a lifetime. Fortunately, in most cases the injury, if minor, the damage can heal on its own. But there are other times when the damage is too severe for that. Also the exact nerves that are damaged affect that mobility problems are suffered. For example, if the nerves in the lower part of the brachial plexus are injured, then the effect is usually difficulty with the hand and wrist. That is usually referred to as Klumpke’s Palsy.
Preventing Erb’s Palsy
Obviously no family wants their new addition to face any complications when entering the world, let alone a physical injury that may affect their strength and movement for a lifetime. It goes without saying that these injuries should be prevented whenever possible. In most cases, the injury is always preventable. That is because the physical damage to the brachial plexus can be eliminated if proper steps are taken by medical providers.
In most cases the underlying problem is some sort of birthing complications–like a breech birth (feet first) or shoulder dystocia (baby’s shoulder caught on pelvic bone). These complications must be carefully managed by medical professionals. After all, one seeks out the help of experts during the birth specifically to handle these tricky situations.
Unfortunately, when too much force is applied by the practitioner (pulling or pushing), then the infant’s vulnerable nerve bundle may be damaged. In some cases a C-section needs to be performed to minimize the harm caused by complications during the vaginal birth.
It is critical that families act early to seek diagnosis of one of these injuries and get proper treatment. Timing matters. In many cases, an infant can recover significantly if adequate physical therapy is begun early. In other cases, neurosurgery or tendon transfer surgery may be necessary. But in all cases, it is important to act quickly. In many cases a lawyer can help work ensure there is accountability so that resources are available to provide the therapy or surgery necessary to help your child. Do not delay in seeking help with these issues, because there are legal time requirements on top of the basic need for fast medical care.
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