What are the Long-Term Effects of Erb’s Palsy?


February 3, 2017 / Medical Malpractice

Expectant parents fret endlessly over the birth of a child. They go to classes, read books and prepare their homes in hopes of ensuring that everything goes smoothly once their baby arrives. Birth injuries represent some of the deepest fears of parents-to-be, mostly because so many facets of the birthing process are beyond their control. It’s one of the many reasons that parents go to such great lengths to check a doctor’s references and pick the perfect obstetrician.

Even with these precautions, birth injuries still happen. Somewhere between 1 and 2 percent of births involve some form of birth injury. One of the most common forms of birth injuries is called Erb’s palsy, and it is so often the result of an error on behalf of the healthcare provider.

What is Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s palsy is a birth injury in which the nerves in a newborn’s arm suffer damage. It is a form of brachial plexus injury (the brachial plexus is a complex system of nerves that spread throughout a large portion of the upper body). Erb’s palsy occurs when damage is done to the upper section of nerves in the arm.

How Does Erb’s Palsy Happen?

Erb’s palsy is an injury that occurs during birth. It is often due to an obstruction, also called dystocia. It can occur because of an abnormal position of the child, complications involving the birth canal, or because the baby is an abnormal size. Many of these risk factors are identified by medical professionals before or during birth, increasing the chances of avoiding nerve damage to the newborn.

These injuries can also be due to the actions of nurses or doctors during birth. For example, excessive force or stretching may cause Erb’s palsy. In some cases, the improper use of forceps or vacuums may also play a role in a birth injury.

The Effects of Erb’s Palsy

The nerve damage can severely limit the range of motion of an arm and result in physical disability and paralysis. It can also be very painful. In milder forms of Erb’s palsy, a newborn may recover through physical therapy or surgery. In more severe cases, the result is a lifelong disability.

Erb’s palsy may cause permanent loss of function in the affected arm, and abnormal muscle contractions in the shoulder may become permanent. These conditions could cause difficulty in the performance of some job duties and impact the sufferer’s ability to earn an income. Even their recreational opportunities and sports activities may be limited by the residual effects of their birth injury.

The effects of Erb’s palsy go well beyond physical harm. People with physical limitations from birth injuries may suffer psychologically, have poor self-esteem and respond with anger to their frustration over being “different.”

This condition could result in extensive medical treatment, both immediate and future and include lifelong expenses related to treatment and care. The impact is felt on both the individual suffering from Erb’s palsy and on his or her family.  Birth injuries can deplete a family’s savings and a sizable portion of its income long after the initial injury.

If your child has suffered birth injuries and you believe that a doctor or other medical professional may have contributed to those injuries, contact the birth injury attorneys at Stephenson Rife to schedule a free consultation. Our team represents clients with medical malpractice claims, and we make sure they get the payment they deserve.

Attorney Mike Stephenson

Attorney Mike StephensonMike Stephenson has 40 years of experience and is a trusted advisor to many individuals and companies. His current practice is dominated by civil litigation in state and federal courts. He focuses much of his time on handling catastrophic injuries caused by all types of accidents, including motor vehicle, trucking, workplace injuries, product liability, and fire, just to name a few. He also works extensively in construction accidents. [ Attorney Bio ]

Featured Posts

  • Can I sue if someone hits me with their car?
    In Car Accidents
    If you were hit by a car while walking on the sidewalk or enjoying a leisurely stroll, it can be both frightening and result in severe injury and impairment. You could be laid up in the hospital for weeks and experience several days or weeks off work. If you’re wondering “can I sue if someone hits me with their car?”, the answer is often “yes.” Pedestrian accidents spiked by 12% nationwide in the first nine months of 2021 as drivers […]
  • What Qualifies As a Spinal Injury Lawsuit?What Qualifies As a Spinal Injury Lawsuit?
    In Catastrophic Injuries
    A spinal injury can be a life-changing event, which is why it’s important to know what qualifies as a spinal injury lawsuit. In the worst case, a spinal injury can leave you permanently paralyzed or otherwise disabled. But even in less extreme scenarios, spinal injuries can lead to chronic pain problems or, at the very least, a long recovery time which could result in lost wages. Regardless of the severity, your spinal injury is likely […]
  • Should Injury Victims Negotiate Directly with Insurance Companies?Should Injury Victims Negotiate Directly with Insurance Companies?
    In Personal Injury
    A recent case handled by our law firm offers a good reminder how an insurance company’s claims adjuster’s job is to settle, even a clear liability injury case, for as little as possible and NOT for the real value of the injury. This case is a great example of what can happen when an injured victim tries to negotiate directly with a very experienced insurance claims adjuster. In this case, an insurance company initially offered only […]

Archives