One of the most common birth injuries caused by damage to the brachial plexus nerves.
An Erb’s Palsy lawsuit can be considered if your child suffered from a preventable birth injury causing this disorder. Erb’s palsy is not a disease; it is a nerve injury that occurs during a vaginal delivery when the nerves at the base of the infant’s neck are damaged. As a result of the torn nerves, the child can suffer partial or total arm paralysis. In the most serious cases, the child’s entire arm from the shoulder down may become immobile. If you believe this injury occurred due to neglect, you can contact an attorney about an Erb’s palsy lawsuit.
According to the Mayo clinic, the brachial plexus is a network of nerves that send signals from the spinal cord to the shoulder, hand, and arm. These nerves are in the shoulder regional connecting the arm to the neck. During some vaginal deliveries, the baby’s shoulder gets stuck inside the birth canal. This is called shoulder dystocia. When shoulder dystocia occurs, the head may be turned away from the shoulder to allow the shoulder to clear the birth canal. When the nerve fibers of the brachial plexus are stretched by the head and shoulder moving in the opposite direction, Erb’s palsy can result.
Many infants with brachial plexus injuries may recover with limited interventions. Recovery can take years, allowing time for the stretched or torn nerves to grow. When recovery does not happen on its own, the parents may need to consider additional surgical and non-surgical treatments for this injury.
The primary non-surgical intervention for Erb’s palsy is physical therapy. The physical therapist will teach the parents how to perform exercises and range-of-motion exercises to help the baby’s arm from stiffening or getting a contracted joint. These interventions often begin when the baby is about 3 weeks old.
If physical therapy does not provide enough improvement, a doctor may recommend surgery on the nerves. According to the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine, some studies have reported that infants who did not undergo surgical intervention have reported significant impairments in up to 25% of patients later in life. They also note that surgical intervention shows its best results when performed within the first year of life. Different surgical options may be considered, including nerve grafts, nerve transfers, and muscle transfers. These surgeries should be performed by trained surgeons adept at microsurgery, which is a type of surgery that uses operating microscopes and precision instruments.
Some babies with severe and complex nerve injuries might need multiple types of treatment for the best recovery. For example, a child might have a nerve reconstruction procedure within the first 6 months following the birth injury. Following the initial surgery, a secondary reconstructive procedure, such as a tendon transfer, might still be needed in the future.
A lawyer can help you determine if medical negligence contributed to your baby’s injury. If your doctor noticed risk factors for Erb’s palsy and did not perform a C-section, the circumstances surrounding the delivery should be investigated.
If the infant was pulled with force out of the birth canal, or if instruments such as a vacuum extractor were used, the doctor may have misjudged the force needed and contributed to the injury.
Filing a lawsuit
If you believe medical negligence contributed to your child’s birth injury, contact our attorneys for a free consultation. You may be able to file an Erb’s palsy lawsuit and seek recovery for the injuries your baby sustained at birth. Our lawyers can walk you through each step of the process and discuss your options. Because your state’s statute of limitations can limit the time you have to file a claim, it’s important to act with urgency so that you don’t lose your right to seek compensation that can help provide for your child’s treatment and care.
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