Erb-Duchenne palsy, or Erb’s Palsy, involves a lack of mobility in the arm due to brachial plexus injury at childbirth. The brachial plexus are a group of nerves around the shoulder that control the arm, shoulder, and hand movements on that same side of the body. When brachial plexus injuries occur at birth, they are typically the result of should dystocia. The severity of the Erb’s palsy condition is determined by the exact nerves within the brachial plexus that experience temporary or permanent injury.
Preventing Erb’s Palsy
Doctors should discuss any factors that may increase the risk of Erb’s Palsy with the mother. Shoulder dystocia problems can be hard to predict, but if risk factors are identified in advance, the doctor may work with the mother in an effort to minimize the risk of Erb’s Palsy for the newborn. If the doctor fails to identify, closely monitor, or act upon the approved guidelines for the risk of Erb’s Palsy, then medical malpractice or medical negligence may occur.
To minimize the risk of Erb’s Palsy, the following steps should be taken:
- Identification of any Erb’s Palsy risks. To adequately manage shoulder dystocia, it is important to define the exact Erb’s Palsy risks that are in question. These risks should be communicated with the expecting mother, so she may be able to make an informed decision on what she prefers to do in the event of birth complications.
- Continuous fetal monitoring. Once Erb’s Palsy risks are identified, it is important to continue close fetal monitoring for the safety of both the fetus and the mother. Even small changes in the growth of the fetus may affect medical and maternal decisions significantly.
- Discussion about delivery. The mother may have several options for a safer delivery if she knows Erb’s Palsy is a significant risk. Although the options may vary in accordance with the medical professional’s ability and the facility she delivers in, the important part of this process is that all options were communicated with the mother.
Erb’s Palsy Risks
Brachial plexus injuries are the common cause of Erb’s Palsy during childbirth. Brachial plexus injuries can happen as a result of a long, difficult labor or birth. These nerve injuries may also happen as a direct result of shoulder dystocia. Shoulder dystocia occurs when the newborn’s shoulder catches on the mother’s hip. As a result, the risk of shoulder dystocia is significantly increased when the baby is very large or the mother is very petite.
Warning signs of an increased shoulder dystocia risk that may result in Erb’s palsy include:
- Maternal obesity
- Excessive pregnancy weight gain, which is classified as over 35 pounds
- Gestational diabetes
- Flat pelvis, or platypelloid
- Petite maternal size
- Abnormally long labor
- Abnormally long delivery
- Fetus that is more than 40 weeks of gestational age
- Large fetus weight, classified as 8 pounds 14 ounces and higher
Erb’s Palsy Treatment
In the event of a brachial plexus injury during childbirth, the medical professional can take steps to prevent the development of Erb’s Palsy. Immediate surgery may repair some of the damaged brachial plexus nerves. . Prompt surgical care is considered the most important step in Erb’s Palsy treatment. Without receiving prompt surgical attention, the infant will likely suffer from severe Erb’s Palsy disabilities for the rest of his or her life. However, the necessary surgery is considered most effective when combined with physical therapy for the infant as well.
Orlando Erb’s Palsy Lawyers
The child will need to attend pediatric therapy for several years to fully recover from a brachial plexus injury and prevent Erb’s Palsy. Pediatric therapy appointments will focus on exercising the affected arm by teaching the child how to properly move his or her arm. The child will practice bending, grasping, and reaching up or down with the affected arm. Through surgery and physical therapy, the child may regain full arm mobility. If your loved one is in need of an Erb’s Palsy Lawyer, please contact Paul & Perkins here in Orlando, Florida.
“Erb’s Palsy (Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy).” American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 2010. <http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00077>.
Lee, Kimberly. “Brachial plexus injury in newborns.” Medline Plus. 2011. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001395.htm>.