Erb’s palsy is a disorder that occurs when a baby’s upper arms are damaged during delivery. The condition gets its name from the location in the body where it occurs – at Erb’s point, the area close to the baby’s neck where the fifth and sixth cranial nerves meet to create the brachial plexus, or where the shoulder meets the neck. The nerves in the brachial plexus control movement in the baby’s arm, hand, and fingers so if Erb’s palsy occurs, it’s these areas that will be mostly affected.
The prognosis for a baby with Erb’s palsy varies, depending on the severity of the condition and the aggressiveness of treatment. Any baby born with Erb’s palsy will need therapy, preferably at a medical center that provides multidisciplinary specialities. These clinics provide care in a number of different areas that relate to Erb’s palsy, including neurologists, neurosurgeons, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and orthopedic surgeons.
With treatment, mild to moderate cases of Erb’s palsy will clear up within three to six months; and approximately 70 to 80 per cent of all cases clear up within a year provided that proper treatment is provided. However, in some cases, babies born with Erb’s palsy can suffer lifelong effects. In these cases, the infant sometimes never regains full function of their arm, hands or fingers. Involuntary muscle contractions can also be a long-term problem for Erb’s palsy patients, causing their arm or hand to spasm or jerk on their own.
Some of the even larger long term health problems related to Erb’s palsy are psychological. Children who don’t have full use of one of their limbs might suffer from low self-esteem, and might not be able to play sports or socialize with other children as they otherwise would, which further damages their self-esteem. Anger and frustration over the inability to fully control their arm or hand can also be another long-term effect of the disorder, which can lead to behavioral issues.
If your child was born with Erb’s palsy, call us at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP. We’re experienced personal injury lawyers that can help with your Erb’s palsy case. We know that often Erb’s palsy is preventable, and that sometimes the doctor or other medical staff that helped deliver your baby is responsible. We also know that treatment for Erb’s palsy can be very expensive. We’ll fight for you and your child to hold the people at fault responsible, and get you the compensation you deserve. Hearing that your child was born with Erb’s palsy is a frightening experience. We just want to help make it a little easier.
Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP can be reached at (212) 986- 7353.