Erbs Palsy Attorney
Lawyer Helping Victims Suffering Due to Medical Malpractice in New York
Erbs Palsy is a brachial plexus injury (“BPI”). The brachial plexus is a large system of nerves, which runs down the spinal column to all of the muscles in the shoulders and arms.
Children born with Erbs Palsy can suffer partial or total paralysis of this part of the body. When Erbs Palsy occurs, it usually results from a difficult birth. Shoulder dystocia is a common cause of Erb’s Palsy. Shoulder dystocia is when one or both of the baby’s shoulders become lodged behind the mother’s pubic bone during birth.
When shoulder dystocia occurs, a doctor should support the baby’s head while gently trying to dislodge it. When a doctor uses excessive force, the brachial plexus nerves in the baby’s neck may suffer injury.
Types of Brachial Plexus Injuries (“BPI”)
There are four types of BPI:
- Avulsion – the nerve is torn from the spine (this is the most severe);
- Rupture – the nerve is torn but not away from the spine;
- Neuroma – the nerve has tried to heal itself but scar tissue has grown around the injury; and
- Neuropraxia – the nerve has been damaged but not torn (this is the most common).
Risk Factors for Shoulder Dystocia
Although a doctor cannot predict when shoulder dystocia will occur, there are risks and warning signs, which should be taken into consideration, such as:
- Is the baby’s pre-birth weight over 8 lbs. 14 oz?
- Does the mother have gestational diabetes?
- Is the mother obese?
- Is gestation beyond 40 weeks?
- Is the mother short in stature?
- Did the mother gain more than 35 lbs?
- Was the first stage of labor long and drawn-out?
- Is the baby breech or in another abnormal presentation?
An epidural may be given to a mother to help with pain during delivery. Unfortunately, epidurals can cause a loss of pushing sensations during labor. If the baby drops in an awkward position, the mother may not feel it. If this happens, a doctor may use forceps or vacuums to help the baby move through the birthing canal. These tools can cause injury to the brachial plexus.
Alternative Methods of Delivery
When shoulder dystocia is present, doctors can use many different procedures to help a baby through the birthing canal, such as:
- Reposition the mother.
- Perform a C-section.
- Attempt to change the baby’s position.
- Break the baby’s clavicle bone on purpose.
- Break the mother’s pelvic bone.
- Cut a deep episiotomy.
- Perform the McRobert’s maneuver.
- Apply suprapubic pressure.
- Gentle traction in a horizontal plane.
Treatment of Erbs Palsy
Erbs Palsy that does not heal on its own can require exercise, therapy, and possibly surgery. Research has shown surgery to be most effective in children between the ages of 5 and 12 months and has been less effective in children over 12 months.
Whether or not to undergo brachial plexus surgery depends upon the individual child. Brachial plexus surgery is very complex and requires a pediatric neurosurgeon, as well as special anesthesia, an operating microscope, monitoring equipment, and more. Please note, due to the likelihood of damage to multiple nerves, more than one procedure may be necessary.
Physical therapy is very important. A physical therapist may work with your child suffering from Erb’s Palsy to help increase their range of motion. Daily exercises will help keep the muscles and joints limber and may prevent the joints from freezing in place. If your child or a loved one has suffered a brachial plexus injury, call us now at (800) 888-8888 or contact us by clicking on New York Erb’s Palsy Attorney.