Brachial Plexus Injury or Erb’s Palsy Questions

In New York and New Jersey

What are brachial plexus injuries?

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that conducts signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm, and hand. Brachial plexus injuries are caused by damage to those nerves. Symptoms may include a limp or paralyzed arm, lack of muscle control in the arm, hand, or wrist, and lack of feeling or sensation in the arm or hand. Although injuries can occur at any time, many brachial plexus injuries happen during birth: the baby’s shoulders may become impacted during the birth process causing the brachial plexus nerves to stretch or tear.

Is there treatment for Erb’s palsy?

Some brachial plexus injuries may heal without treatment. Many children improve or recover by 3 to 4 months of age. Treatment for brachial plexus injuries includes occupational or physical therapy and, in some cases, surgery.

What is the prognosis for a child born with Erb’s palsy?

The site and type of brachial plexus injury determine the prognosis. For avulsion and rupture injuries there is no potential for recovery unless surgical reconnection is made in a timely manner. For neuroma and neuropraxia injuries the potential for recovery varies. Most patients with neuropraxia injuries recover spontaneously with a 90-100% return of function.

What are the symptoms of Erb’s palsy?

Symptoms of Erb’s palsy can include:

  • No muscle control and no feeling in the arm or hand
  • The ability to move but with little control
  • The use of hands but not of the shoulder or elbow
  • Paralysis of the entire arm with the hand and fingers hanging limp
  • Facial paralysis on the affected side
  • The inability to sit up without assistance
  • The inability to crawl without the use of therapeutic devices

Is Erb’s palsy preventable?

Erb’s palsy is mostly preventable because the medical community has developed maneuvers that should be used to alleviate shoulder dystocia – a condition that occurs when the baby’s shoulder becomes “stuck” behind the mother’s pubic bone in the birth canal. However, there are times when the brachial plexus has been damaged during delivery. Sometimes the damage is permanent, sometimes it is not. When the Erb’s palsy has occurred because of malpractice or negligence, parents have rights.

To learn more about Erb’s palsy and other birth injuries, please contact the Erb’s Palsy attorneys at Trief & Olk, serving New York and the entire United States, today to schedule your initial consultation.

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