When a California mom undergoes a difficult delivery, there is a chance that her infant will suffer from Erb’s palsy. This condition, also known as brachial plexus birth palsy, occurs when the nerves that control the arm are stretched or torn. In many cases, infants who have this condition suffer from arm weakness and have a loss of motion.
Erb’s palsy can have a number of causes, including a difficult delivery, a complicated birth or if the person assisting the delivery exerts force when removing the infant from the birth canal. There are four types of injuries that could contribute to Erb’s palsy: a neurapraxia, a neuroma, a rupture or an avulsion. A neurapraxia, which is the most common injury, is a stretch injury that usually heals within three months. A neuroma results in scar tissue, which can affect the rest of the nerve. A rupture is when the nerve tears and no healing occurs. Finally, an avulsion occurs when the nerve is completely torn from the spinal cord. There is no current treatment for an avulsion.
Depending upon the severity of the injury, there are several treatments for damaged brachial plexus nerves. In some cases, the infant or toddler may undergo physical therapy and range-of-motion exercises, which keep the arm muscles and joints limber. If no recovery is made within a few months, there are several surgical options available. If the infant or toddler is a candidate, he or she may have a nerve graft or a nerve transfer.
If an infant was injured during labor, the parents may have the grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctors and staff who delivered the child. Because all child birth circumstances are different, those who believe that hospital or staff negligence resulted in the injury should seek advice from an attorney.