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Birth Injuries: Causes and Long-Term Effects of Erb’s Palsy

Updated on: 11/13/2019

For new and expecting parents, the risk of birth injuries is one of the greatest fears that they might encounter during the pregnancy and delivery process. As much preparation and planning that may be put into the birth of a child, some birth injuries are caused by uncontrollable factors or last-minute mistakes that are made by the healthcare provider. Ultimately, the child’s life can be dramatically altered because of these medical mistakes and can require years and years of future care. Today, we will explore the causes and long-term impact of Erb’s palsy.

Birth Injury Lawyer

Erb’s palsy, or brachial plexus birth palsy, is a particular form of birth injuries that results in limited or no range of motion in the arm and weakness in the arm muscles.

According to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), somewhere between one and two babies per 1,000 has Erb’s palsy. The AAOS adds that this type of birth injuries usually occurs when an infant’s neck is stretched to the side during complications in the delivery process.

Long-Term Effects of Birth Injuries

Because this form of birth injury impacts a large network of nerves in the neck that connect with nerves in the arm, the condition can be very complex and vary from case to case.

As with most birth injuries, Erb’s palsy can have long lasting effects that can be very expensive for the family of the affected infant. Also common with most birth injuries are the high costs associated with future care for the injured baby.

With Erb’s palsy, the long-term effects can range from complete loss of motion and feeling in the affected arm to complete recovery. According to the AAOS, most infants with these injuries are likely to recover both movement and feeling in the impacted arm. Sometimes, however, the nerve damage is permanent and the child will experience complications with the arm for the rest of their lives.

It can take multiple years for a full recovery from Erb’s palsy, though that time varies as well depending on the case. Typically, frequent physical therapy is the main source of treatment for recovering from Erb’s palsy, and parents often are tasked with keeping the baby’s joints limber and exercising the muscles. This will prevent permanent stiffness in the affected joint, which is a condition called joint contracture.

If your child suffers any birth injuries due to hospital negligence or due to the fault of another person or entity, it is important that you consult with another medical professional to determine the cause of the injuries and the next steps necessary to recover. In addition, parents of a child victim should consult with a birth injuries attorney to determine if they are eligible for financial compensation to pay for necessary future care and past medical bills. 

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