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What is Erb's Palsy?

Expecting parents in Florida might be interested to know what exactly Erb's palsy is and how it happens. Erb's palsy is a type of brachial plexus palsy named for the first doctor to describe the condition. Around one or two babies out of a thousand get Erb's palsy, typically due to a birth injury. Newborns of mothers facing a difficult delivery could be at risk if an obstetrician or assistant uses too much force to extract the baby from its mother's birth canal.

In instances where a baby is larger than normal, labor lasts longer than usual or other complications ensue that make it hard for a baby to be born, the person delivering the baby might stretch its neck trying to pull the baby out, which could in turn stretch the nerves in that area and lead to Erb's palsy. A group of nerves along the side of the neck merge together before running down arm to the hands and fingers. This highway of nerves is called a plexus. If stretched, damage to the nerves could cause weakness or loss of feeling in the affected arm. There could even be partial or total paralysis.

There are treatments for Erb's palsy that will have varying success depending on the individual and the extent of the injury. Parents play a large role in their baby's recovery by working with the affected arm to do a series of prescribed exercises learned in physical therapy. Daily physical therapy is usually the primary way to treat the condition. In some cases, physical therapy fails to show improvement and surgery might be recommended.

Parents of babies with injuries like Erb's palsy that might have been prevented could be entitled to compensation. An attorney could review the case and suggest a course of action to hold the medical professionals and facility responsible for their role in a birth injury. This might include injuries that occurred during delivery or instances where medical staff failed to recognize a condition earlier.

Source: Ortho INfo, "Erb's Palsy (Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy)", November 20, 2014

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