Maryland Erb’s Palsy Attorneys
D’Amore Personal Injury Law, LLC offers knowledgeable legal representation in birth injury and cerebral palsy cases. Erb’s palsy is another common birth injury we encounter. Erb’s Palsy often results in long and short-term disability, emotional distress, and greater medical costs.
If your child suffers from the effects of Erb’s palsy after a difficult birth, it is advisable to have an experienced attorney evaluate your case for possible medical malpractice. Here are the causes of Erb’s palsy, its injuries, disabilities, and treatments, and why you may have a medical malpractice claim if your child suffers the effects of it.
Causes of Erb’s Palsy
Erb’s palsy occurs in approximately two out of every 1,000 deliveries. It is the result of when the brachial plexus nerves are damaged. These nerves are located through the spinal cord and the arm and head. When there is pressure on a child’s head, neck or shoulder, the nerves may be damaged and cause the affected arm and shoulder to become limp, lose sensation or display considerable weakness.
This arises when there are delivery complications involving a child’s shoulder, which is known as shoulder dystocia. It is most common with babies of above-average size or deliveries forced with forceps or vacuum devices. This pressure stretches the brachial plexus nerves and results in Erb’s palsy.
Types of Erb’s Palsy Injuries & Disabilities
Symptoms of Erb’s palsy include paralysis or limpness in the child’s arm or a lack of movement in the arm, hands or fingers. Some children may have no sensation in these areas or hold their affected arm close to their bodies. Toddlers who continue to show the effects of Erb’s palsy often have one arm much smaller than the other and they are unable to use it to its full functions.
Sometimes, these symptoms are temporary and treated successfully with physical therapy or surgery. However, permanent nerve damage is possible and may be beyond current treatments. In these cases, the child may be left unable to move their arm or fully rotate or flex it. Children who suffer permanent effects for Erb’s palsy may be left unable to reach above their head or risk burns and other injuries due to a lack of feeling in that arm.
Also, symptoms of Erb’s palsy may not present immediately after birth. Parents often notice that as a child grows, they may be slow to develop the ability to roll over, crawl, smile or talk. Muscle tone never develops, and coordination is frequently lacking. It is also not uncommon for undiagnosed Erb’s palsy to affect vision and hearing.
Erb’s Palsy Treatment
The most common treatment for Erb’s palsy is physical therapy. A physical therapist instructs parents on how to move the arm to regain feeling and strength. This prevents atrophy of the joints and muscles until the nerves heal. Physical therapy restores full use of the arm in 90 percent of affected children id it begins at around three weeks of age.
If patients do not respond to physical therapy within three to six months, doctors consider surgical intervention. Techniques include nerve grafts or transfers. A nerve graft involves repairing the affected nerve by splicing a donor nerve from another area of the child’s body. Nerve transfers are similar except that they transplant an entire nerve from another muscle rather than just part of it. Even with surgery, it is likely that your child will still have weakness or coordination issues. Physical therapy may solve many of these symptoms, but it is also likely that your child will undergo further surgeries.
Without any surgical intervention, 20 to 25 percent of Erb’s palsy patients sustain a permanent disability and developmental delays. This often means more medical intervention and therapy.
Medical Malpractice & Birth Injury Compensation
Doctor burnout and inattention often lead to medical malpractice while supervising births. Possible treatment failures during a difficult birth include:
- Failing to recognize that a cesarean section is necessary due to the size of the baby or mother;
- Excessive pressure on the child’s neck, head or shoulder during delivery; and
- Failure to properly avoid shoulder dystocia.
Other possible medical malpractice claims may arise out of inadequate treatment for Erb’s palsy. This includes diagnosing it too late or failing to recommend surgery when symptoms remain. If there are errors during surgery that make the condition worse, that is also grounds for a possible malpractice claim.
Since Erb’s palsy may result in long-term disabilities and higher medical expenses, you may have a right to birth injury compensation. A medical malpractice claim allows you to collect damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. If your child suffers effects that lead to developmental issues that make daily living difficult, you may also be entitled to long-term support and rehabilitation for your child.
D’Amore Personal Injury Law, LLC offers vast experience handling birth injury cases, including those resulting in Erb’s palsy. If your child sustained Erb’s palsy, contact our office today to schedule a free no-risk consultation.