Erb’s Palsy is one of the most common birth injuries in the United States. It is often an avoidable condition that is caused by trauma to the nerves, called the brachial plexus, in the neck and upper back that are responsible for supplying the arm, forearm, and hand. Injury to these nerves can occur during delivery when a baby’s shoulder becomes lodged behind the mother’s pubic bone. This is known as shoulder dystocia which becomes apparent when a baby’s head delivers, but the body does not immediately follow.
Shoulder dystocia should be considered a medical emergency, requiring swift and proper treatment that consists of maneuvers to adjust the position of the mother or baby to release the shoulder and complete delivery. However if these maneuvers are improperly performed, the delicate nerves can be damaged (torn or stretched) due to excessive force or twisting the baby’s head improperly.
Signs and Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy
Signs of Erb’s Palsy include:
- Ability to move but with little control
- Arm motor control difficulty
- Arm numbness
- Arm paralysis
- Arm sensation symptoms
- Facial paralysis on the side affected
- In ability to crawl without therapeutic devices
- Limp arm
- No muscle control
- No feeling in the arm or hand
- Requiring assistance to sit up
- Use of hands but not the shoulder or elbow
Diagnosis of Erb’s Palsy is done through observations of the infant’s neurological status through a technique that tests the “Moro reflex” (or “startle reflex”). The reflex is sought by pulling the infant up and then releasing him or her. If the neurological response is normal, the infant will spread his or her arms, then pull his or her arms, and cry. If there is disproportion in the reflexes of either of the infant’s arms, it is usually indicative that there is a significant neurological impairment.
Parents of children who have Erb’s Palsy as a result of malpractice or negligence have rights. You should seek legal help as soon as possible before the rights of your baby expire. Contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
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