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Brachial Plexus Palsy Including Erb’s Palsy – Legal Information
Brachial Plexus Palsy is a condition that affects the nerves that control the muscles in the arm and hand. The term “brachial” refers to the arm, and the term “plexus” means “nerves.” The brachial plexus, a group of nerves, is located on the right and left side of the neck, between the neck and shoulder area and runs from the spinal cord through the arm to the wrist and hand. Damage to these nerves occurs when a baby’s shoulders become impacted at birth and stretch or tear the brachial plexus. Shoulder dystocia, a condition that occurs when one of the baby’s shoulders becomes stuck under the mother’s pelvic bone during birth, is one of the main causes of Brachial Plexus Palsy. This often happens as a result of a doctor’s failure to anticipate a larger-sized baby.
Symptoms of a brachial plexus injury include:
- A limp or paralyzed arm
- Lack of muscle control in the arm
- A decrease of sensation in the arm or hand
- Loss of sensation in the arm or hand
- Lack of control of shoulder or elbow muscles
The effects of Brachial Plexus Palsy vary depending on which nerves sustain damage. Some children with Brachial Plexus Palsy have no muscle control and no feeling in their arm or hand. While others can move their arms, but have little control over their wrist and hand. Some children can use their hands well but cannot use their shoulder or elbow muscles.
Brachial Plexus Injuries, including Erb’s Palsy, are treated with a combination of exercise, focused therapy and, in many cases, surgery to correct the damaged nerves. Each treatment plan is unique based on the child’s severity and is carefully planned and managed by a team of specialists. An occupational or physical therapist is usually involved in the brachial plexus treatment. Therefore, recovering adequate damages in those cases where the condition is caused by negligence is vital.
Types of Brachial Plexus Injuries
There are four types of nerve injuries: avulsion, rupture, neuroma, and praxis. Avulsion is when the nerve is torn from the spine. Rupture is when the nerve is torn but not where it attaches to the spine. Neuroma is when the nerve has tried to heal itself, but scar tissue has grown around the injury. The scar tissue puts pressure on the injured nerve and as a result, the nerve cannot conduct signals to the muscles. Praxis is when the nerve has been damaged but not torn. These injuries heal on their own, and if your child has praxis, you should see improvement within 3 months.
Depending on which nerves are damaged, Brachial Plexus injuries are given names to describe the damage. For example, “Erb’s Palsy” is when the brachial plexus injury occurs in a child’s upper plexus. The name “Klumpke’s Palsy” is given to a brachial plexus injury that occurs in a child’s lower plexus.
Erb’s Palsy is a type of Brachial Plexus injury of a child’s upper brachial plexus, effecting muscles around the shoulder and elbow. Erb’s Palsy is characterized by a lack of movement in a child’s arm and shoulder. As many as 60% of people with brachial plexus injuries are affected with the Erb’s Palsy type.
Klumpke’s Palsy is a type of Brachial Plexus injury of a child’s lower brachial plexus, effecting the muscles of the forearm and hand. Klumpke’s Palsy is characterized by a lack of movement in a child’s wrist or hand.
Horner’s Syndrome is a type of Brachial Plexus injury that effects the facial nerves. Horner’s Syndrome is a rare condition that results in ptosis of the eyelid and pupil dilation. Symptoms associated with Horner’s Syndrome are constricted pupils, elevation of the eyelid, retraction of the eyeball into the head, slight drooping of the eyelid, and increased pink color and warmth of the ear and nose.
Complete Palsy is an injury to the entire Brachial Plexus. All the nerves of the Brachial Plexus are damaged to some extent.
Shoulder Dystocia results from a difficulty during birth in which the shoulders will not pass through the mother’s pelvis. Complicated maneuvers must be performed, often resulting in injury, or shoulder dystocia. Some types of shoulder dystocia injuries are fractures of the clavicle or humerus, nerve injuries, asphyxia and death. Brachial plexus injuries may result from shoulder dystocia and is one of the most common groupings of birth injuries.
In Brachial Plexus Palsy cases it is essential that measures be promptly taken to preserve evidence, review the medical procedures in question, and enable physicians and other experts to thoroughly examine the birth records and injuries. If your child suffers from a serious medical condition caused by medical malpractice during delivery, it is important to contact a birth injuries lawyer who can help you protect your child’s legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits within which you must commence suit so we highly recommend that you seek a birth injury attorney as soon as possible. If you would like us to give you a referral please call toll free at 1 (800) 807-9530 for a confidential consultation or fill out our contact form and we will call you.