One to two out of every 1,000 newborns around the country develop a condition called Erb's palsy. This refers to palsy, or weakness, caused by damage to the upper nerves of the brachial plexus, a collection of nerves essential for movement and sensation in the arms, hands, and fingers.
The brachial plexus is located near the neck. Erb's palsy can often arise when doctors stretch a baby's neck to the side during a difficult delivery. Because the upper nerves are damaged, the infant will likely be able to move the fingers but not the shoulder. This is one symptom of Erb's palsy, along with weakness and loss of feeling in the arm.
Treatment and prognosis depend on the severity of the nerve injury. At the lowest end of the spectrum is neurapraxia, where the nerves are shocked but not torn. Neurapraxia usually heals within three months. Worse than this is neuroma, then a rupture. Worst of all is avulsion, the tearing of a nerve from the spinal cord.
Physical therapy is recommended for all cases of Erb's palsy. If three to six months pass without any progress, doctors may consider surgeries like nerve grafts and nerve transfers. A complete recovery may not be possible until two years later.
Erb's palsy may be caused indirectly by medical malpractice. Parents who suspect malpractice may think about building a birth injury case. If they are successful, they may be reimbursed for medical expenses and for any rehabilitative care that the child will have to undergo in the future. Malpractice claims frequently result in high-end settlements, but they face lots of opposition. As a result, having the assistance of counsel can be advisable.