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Common Causes of Erbs Palsy

Posted on April 2, 2012

Erbs palsy is a condition in which injury to the cervical nerves in the neck causes damage and sometimes paralysis or loss of use of the arm. While the injury sometimes resolves depending on the extent of the nerve damage it does not always get better and may require rehabilitative therapy or surgery. Sometimes the injuries can be repaired or improved but in some cases the injuries are permanent.

Frequently Erbs palsy is caused by dystocia, an abnormal or difficult labor or childbirth involving problems with the shoulder positioning as the baby passes thru the birth canal. During a head-first delivery, extensive pulling (traction) on the shoulders by healthcare providers can damage the cervical nerves of the fetus to the point of rupture. During a feet-first delivery, extensive pressure on the raised arms can lead to abnormal positioning and cause nerve damage. If the head and neck of the fetus are pulled toward the side at the same time that the shoulders are passing through the birth canal, this also can cause nerve damage. If a baby does not have full use of his arms and hands in the days following delivery a thoughtful assessment of the child’s condition should include consideration of the possibility the child suffered nerve damage during delivery.

Complications of Erbs palsy

Erbs palsy is characterized by the paralysis of the arm but involves other complications as well. In addition to the loss of sensation in the arm and the atrophy of the arm muscles, the muscular, nervous, and circulatory development of the arm is impaired and the growth becomes stunted, leaving the paralyzed arm much smaller than the unaffected arm. The ability to regulate temperature in the affected arm is reduced, as is the ability of the skin on the arm to heal. Thus, both require extensive monitoring to ensure that hypothermia and infection are avoided.

In some cases, the occurrence of Erbs palsy in a newborn is related to a medical mistake or act of negligence—one in which the failure of a healthcare provider to identify and respond appropriately to a complication arising during delivery results in an avoidable birth injury.

Here in Philadelphia, the attorneys of Duffy + Partners are here to help you when instances of medical malpractice harm your child. We have extensive experience assessing the causes of birth injuries and helping you determine if they were preventable with proper care. More importantly, we have an excellent track record in helping the rights of those injured by negligence and misconduct committed by obstetric healthcare providers in Philadelphia. Erbs palsy can place limitations on a child and have an impact even after surgical repair and physical therapy treatment.

We can help

When a birth injury in Philadelphia results from a violation of the standard of care established for health care professionals, the birth injury lawyers at Duffy + Partners will fight for your child to receive compensation. We hold negligent parties responsible for the acts that caused the birth injury you and your loved ones must live for the rest of their lives.