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Caring for a Child with Erb’s Palsy

By Dansker & Aspromonte

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July 20, 2024

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When your child has suffered a birth injury or you discover that your baby has a serious medical problem, your first concern will be providing the care the child needs and to enhance his or her quality of life. You’ll be wrapped up in finding out what type of medical care will be required, and what limitations your child may face. The reason for the injury may be the furthest thing from your mind. However, knowing whether a third party is responsible for the injury can play an important role in giving your child the best life possible.

What is Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s palsy is a temporary or permanent paralysis caused by damage to a bundle of nerves in the shoulder, called the brachial plexus. Telltale signs include:

  • arm hanging loose from the shoulder
  • limited mobility of the arm
  • unusual positioning of the arm (especially held close to the body)
  • pain
  • a decreased ability to grip objects
  • loss of feeling and reduced or absent reflexes

Of course, some of these signs may not be immediately apparent in an affected infant, who will not be trying to grip objects shortly after birth and cannot communicate information about pain or reduced sensation.

What Causes Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s palsy is not a condition that occurs naturally. Rather, it results from an injury to shoulder nerves. Such an injury during birth is fairly common, occurring 1 or 2 of every 1,000 live births. While this type of injury occasionally occurs during a birth by Caesarian section, it is more commonly associated with excessive pulling during the birth. In that situation, or during a breech birth where the arms are positioned over the head, stretching of the shoulder nerves may occur.

Can Erb’s Palsy be Treated?

Fortunately, the majority of brachial plexus injuries are relatively short-lived, and the baby recovers and full range of motion is restored within weeks or months. In many cases, recovery is aided by gentle massage, range of motion exercises, or even a course of physical therapy. In more serious cases, surgical intervention may be required.

The degree to which treatment is successful varies, and some children affected by Erb’s palsy will suffer long-term, or even permanent, limitations.

How Can an Erb’s Palsy Lawyer Help?

Understanding your child’s medical condition and the type of treatment and assistance required is just the first step. Surgery, long-term treatment, ongoing physical therapy and lifestyle adaptations to help your child recover to the degree possible and live a good life can be expensive and time-consuming.

If Erb’s palsy is the result of a birth injury, you may have a medical malpractice claim against the obstetrician, the hospital, or other medical personnel. Investigating who was responsible for the injury and pursuing fair compensation will help you to provide your child with the care he or she needs to live with the lasting effects of Erb’s palsy.

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Talk to an Erb’s Palsy Lawyer as Soon as Possible

Although you may have a little over two years to file a medical malpractice case, delaying legal action is never in your best interest. Instead of waiting, speak with a birth injury attorney in NYC now to learn how we can help you secure the funds necessary to care for your injured child. Call us at (212) 732-2929 or fill out the contact form on this page to get started.

Call or text (212) 732-2929 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form

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