Erb's palsy (Brachial Plexus palsy) is a common example of a birth injury caused by physical trauma to the fetus. The brachial plexus is a nerve bundle located in the shoulder region that controls muscles in the shoulder, arms and hands.
During labor and birth, a fetus' shoulder can become lodged or stuck under the mother's pubic bone following the delivery of the head. If the treating physician uses excessive force on the child's head in an effort to dislodge the shoulder, damage can occur to the nerve bundles located in the shoulder region causing neurological injury.
Erb's palsy is sometimes confused with Klumpke’s Palsy and is the result of damage to the nerves controlling the upper arm and shoulder. The severity of the injury depends on what happens to the nerves. They can become stretched and scar tissue can develop. In more severe cases, the nerves tear completely off the spinal cord.
Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy include:
- Facial paralysis on damaged side
- Loss of muscle control
- Finger and hand paralysis
- Paralysis of arm and hand
- Limited movement abilities
- Need for assistance to sit up
There are several methods treating physicians and obstetricians can use to help prevent brachial plexus injuries. Risk factors are known to lead to such birth injuries, and should be looked for. These include the pre-birth weight of the baby, maternal diabetes and obesity, excessive weight during pregnancy, previous deliveries of large children and an abnormally long gestation period. Failure to look for or recognize these warning signs can lead to a mistaken assumption of a baby's size, which can prevent protective action from taking place. Many options exist for dislodging a baby's shoulder to prevent brachial plexus injuries during delivery. The treating physician can attempt to change the baby's or the mother's position.Many times the use of tools, such as scopes, forceps and even vacuums, may be used to assist in delivering the baby. These tools may increase the risk of injury to your newborn. It is the responsibility of the physician and medical team to successfully avoid these complications. If they do not, then it is possible you have a case of medical malpractice. If you feel your doctor is to blame, you will need the guidance from an experienced birth injury lawyer.
Stephen Bilkis & Associates are experienced erb’s palsy attorneys. If your baby has been injured during birth or other medical procedure, call us immediately at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW. We offer free consultations for those dealing with erb’s palsy and brachial plexus palsy cases.