California Birth Injury Attorney

Erb’s Palsy – Birth Injury Attorney in California

One out of every 1,000 babies is born with Erb’s palsy. This condition is often confused with cerebral palsy due to the symptoms of paralysis and nerve damage. Erb’s palsy is typically caused when an infant’s neck is stretched to one side during delivery, causing temporary or permanent nerve damage.

Erb’s palsy can also develop based on the positioning of the infant in the birth canal. This condition is common in larger babies with broad shoulders. What typically happens is that the infant’s head drops into the birth canal but one shoulder is held back by the mother’s pubic bone. As the baby’s head is pushed lower into the birth canal, the nerves are stretched, resulting in Erb’s palsy.

Depending on the severity of the condition, paralysis can resolve on its own over a period of months or it may require more in-depth treatment options, such as therapy or surgery.

The costs associated with treatment and surgery for Erb’s palsy can be substantial. In addition to medical costs, families often have to commit a large amount of resources to help the injured child recover and minimize lasting limitations. Erb’s palsy is sometimes the result of medical error, which means that the injured child’s family may be eligible for compensation for the pain and suffering as well as the additional medical expenses incurred as a result of the injury.

Types of Erb’s Palsy Injuries

  • Neuropraxia – Also known as “burners” or “stingers”, neuropraxia is the most common type of neural injury. This condition occurs when a nerve is stretched or “shocked” but does not tear. These injuries typically heal on their own within 3 months.
  • Neuroma – A more serious stretch injury that damages some of the nerve fibers. Neuroma can cause scar tissue to form as it heals, which presses on the remaining healthy nerve and creates discomfort. As a result, long-term recovery from neuroma is typically only partial, not complete.
  • Rupture – A stretch injury that occurs when the nerve itself is torn. Rupture injuries require surgery to splice and graft the nerve back together. This type of injury will not be able to heal on its own.
  • Avulsions – The most severe type of nerve injury. An avulsion occurs when a nerve is totally torn from the spinal cord. It may be possible to repair an avulsion with surgery, where healthy nerves are spliced from another part of the body and replaced, but the affected nerve cannot be reattached to the spinal cord.

If a vacuum extraction device or forceps were used to assist in your baby’s delivery, misuse of such medical tools can result in shoulder injuries. If a medical staff member lifted your baby by the arms instead of supporting the baby’s head and spine, a post-delivery injury could be the basis for an Erb’s palsy lawsuit. If your child has Erb’s palsy, it may have been caused by the mistake or negligence of an obstetrician, midwife, or other healthcare staff who was responsible for your baby’s delivery. Failing to recognize the risk factors or respond to them appropriately, as well as delegating the delivery procedure of a woman with a high-risk pregnancy to inexperienced, junior staff, may be the direct cause of this type of birth injury.

Contact Potter Handy, LLP About Erb’s Palsy Malpractice

If your child was born with Erb’s palsy and you believe the injury could have been prevented, it is in your best interest to speak with a California Birth Injury Attorney. For a free case consultation with no obligation, contact us at (415) 534-1911. You may be able to recover compensation to cover your medical bills.