Erb's Palsy

Causes and Impacts

Erb’s palsy is a type of injury that occurs most often during birth, although similar effects are possible due to trauma later in life. Depending on the severity of the damage, it can be permanent. If your child suffered Erb’s palsy due to medical malpractice or if you sustained this injury as a result of an accident, our personal injury lawyers can help.

What is Erb’s Palsy?

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that extends from the spinal cord through parts of the neck, ribs, and armpit. These nerves impact the shoulder, upper arm, and hand. Erb’s palsy occurs when the upper trunk of these nerves is severed, usually at C5 or C6. C5, which is located above the clavicle, is also known as Erb’s point. An injury to these nerves results in paralysis. This can be partial, meaning the arm can still move slightly, or complete. The nerve damage can also lead to a loss of sensation in the arm or hand.

What Causes This Condition?

Birth Injury

The most common cause of Erb’s palsy is shoulder dystocia during birth. This is when the head is delivered but the baby’s shoulder gets stuck above the mother’s pubic bone. Gestational diabetes, obesity, or a larger than average baby can increase the risk of this complication. It is also more likely to happen if a woman experienced shoulder dystocia during a previous birth.

One of the major indications of shoulder dystocia is the “turtle sign.” This is when the baby’s head appears and then retracts into the birth canal. Shoulder dystocia is an obstetric emergency so if a doctor notices this, it is essential that they take action to prevent complications.

Erb’s Palsy Later in Life

In addition to damage during birth, Erb’s palsy can occur due to traumatic injury at any point during your life. If the head and shoulder move back violently, such as during a car accident, the nerves in the brachial plexus may tear. This can also occur as a result of a gunshot wound.

The Impacts of Brachial Plexus Damage

When Erb’s palsy develops during birth, the paralysis is not usually permanent. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t long-term consequences. If the issue is not treated, the arm may atrophy. When a baby has Erb’s palsy that persists during their development, it can stunt the growth of the affected arm. This leads to weakness, a noticeable size difference, and a reduced range of motion that can persist for the rest of their life. Surgical treatment and physical therapy may be necessary, which can result in large medical bills. If the issue affects you as an adult, it can also lead to lost wages.

How Negligence Causes Erb’s Palsy

There are some cases of Erb’s palsy that could not have been prevented even with proper care. However, doctors and other medical professionals may have contributed to the condition through negligence or malpractice. If they did not take proper steps during a difficult delivery or did not notice warning signs of shoulder dystocia, this could have caused the paralysis or made it worse.

If you sustained this type of injury as an adult, it may have occurred in an accident that was not your fault. This is another example of Erb’s palsy that was a result of someone else’s negligence.

Get the Compensation You Deserve

Erb’s palsy can have a large impact on your life whether it affects you or your child. If the negligence of a doctor or another individual contributed to this condition, we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Our lawyers have experience with birth injury cases as well as other types of accidents that can result in this condition.

If you are or a loved one suffered from Erb’s palsy, call our personal injury law firm today to schedule a free consultation.