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New York Erb's Palsy and Brachial Plexus Lawyers

Causes, Symptoms and Treatment for Erbs Palsy

Erbs Palsy occurs as the result of injury to the brachial plexus, or the main nerves running through the shoulder and upper arm.

Erbs Palsy causes nerve damage and paralysis of the arm which can be either mild or severe. Frequently the condition requires extensive physical therapy or surgery, and it can cause permanent damage to the affected arm. Infants with Erbs Palsy often are unable to move or experience weakness in the affected arm.

Erbs Palsy almost always occurs during birth and is preventable. The injury occurs when the baby gets stuck in the birth canal during delivery and its shoulder is lodged against the mother’s pelvic bone. This is often called “Shoulder Dystocia”. In order to deliver the baby safely the doctor must try to dislodge the baby’s shoulder, however too often too much force is applied to the baby’s head while trying to pull it out. Pulling on the baby’s head during the delivery process can stretch, tear and injure the nerves in the neck which control the arm causing Erbs Palsy.

Shoulder Dystocia, which is a cause of Erbs Palsy, frequently occurs when a child is large or has a large birth weight. This can occur when a mother has maternal diabetes, is overweight or is overdue. It can also occur when a mother is quite small or has an unusually shaped pelvis.

Medical negligence is frequently the cause of an infant sustaining an Erbs Palsy injury. Examples of medical negligence which can cause Erbs Palsy include the failure of a medical staff to recognize the potential or the risk of Shoulder Dystocia, and the failure to utilize proper maneuvers to resolve Shoulder Dystocia if it occurs. Another example of medical negligence that can cause Erbs Palsy is pulling on the baby’s head to complete delivery or the improper use of medical tools such as forceps or vacuum extraction. A doctor’s decision to use drugs to speed up labor such as Cervadil or Pitocin can also be a factor in causing an Erbs Palsy injury.

Erbs Palsy is recognizable by the lack of movement or weakness in the affected arm. Parents may observe weakness or paralysis in the affected arm or hand, or an inability to properly or fully use the hand and elbow. A newborn may hold their arm limply by their side with the forearm turned inward and the wrist bent.

Infants who have Erbs Palsy frequently have sensory loss in the arm and hand which can cause difficulty achieving developmental milestones, such as crawling on their own. In severe cases Erbs Palsy the child can experience shortening of the arm or require surgery to repair the nerves damaged during the delivery process.

When a doctor has reason to believe that there will be a large baby, a Caesarean Section should be considered. When a mother has gestational diabetes or a sonogram reveals that the baby is larger than usual, the doctor should consider Caesarean Section. By performing a Caesarean Section the baby does not have to pass through the narrow birth canal and can avoid trauma to the shoulders. There are times, however, during the delivery process when a baby can get caught on the mother’s pelvic bone without advanced warning. Even when this occurs permanent nerve injury can be preventable.

The key to preventing nerve injury when an infant is caught on the mother’s pelvic bone during the delivery process is for the doctor to remain calm and make appropriate maneuvers to dislodge the child’s shoulder. The doctor should not pull on the child’s head, which can stretch or tear nerves in the spine, or try to push the child out by applying pressure which can cause serious and permanent injury. When this occurs, the physician is committing medical malpractice. Medical malpractice cases, such as cases involving Erbs Palsy, require handling by experienced attorneys who understand the medicine.

At Bonina & Bonina, P.C. we have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars from doctors and health care providers on behalf of our injured clients and have successfully fought to insure that families of injured infants have the ability to care for their injured child over the course of their lifetime.

A consultation with our experienced Erbs Palsy attorneys is free. Contact Bonina & Bonina, P.C. toll free at 1-888-Medlaw1 or click here for a free consultation.

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