Erb’s palsy is a birth injury that causes damage to the nerves in the newborn child’s arm, causing arm weakness, numbness, and/or limited mobility. Also known as brachial plexus birth palsy (after the nerves that are affected), this injury occurs in approximately 1 to 2 births out of every 1000, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. It is also a condition that, in many cases, is preventable.
How Erb’s Palsy Occurs
Erb’s palsy most often happens in difficult or prolonged deliveries when an infant’s neck is stretched too far to the side as it is delivered. This can occur for any of a number of reasons—for example:
The brachial plexus is the network of nerves running from the spinal cord through the neck and into the arm. These nerves provide feeling in the arm and control muscle movement from the shoulder down to the hand. If the neck is stretched to one side during birth, these nerves may also be stretched and possibly damaged in the process.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy
Erb’s palsy typically shows up in one arm. In most cases, the signs of Erb’s palsy will be noticeable at birth; at other times, they may develop over the course of the next several months. The common signs of Erb’s palsy include:
Is Erb’s palsy permanent?
It depends on the severity of the injury. In the majority of cases, Erb’s palsy will resolve on its own, but if the damage is severe, it may be unresolvable without help—or possibly permanent. Doctors categorize Erb’s palsy into four types of injury based on the damage:
If you have a child that suffers from Erb’s palsy due to negligence or malpractice by a medical professional, you may be entitled to compensation for care and damages. Charles H. Thronson, Attorney at Law, has many years of experience in helping Utah families get proper compensation due to birth injuries. To learn more, call our office or complete our online form.