Erb’s palsy: Can it be a result of medical negligence?

Brachial plexus is a network of nerves that runs from your spine to your shoulders, supplying your upper extremities (fingers, hands, forearms and shoulders) with the nervous energy it needs to control muscle and movement. When this network of nerves is twisted, bruised, ruptured, ripped, or avulsed, brachial plexus injury can occur. Brachial plexus injury may obstruct the supply of nervous system to the upper extremities, making it difficult, sometimes even impossible, for someone to control his arm movement.

There are many possible causes of brachial plexus injury. Injuries from contact sports, such as basketball and football, may result in brachial plexus injury. Motorcycle and other road-related incidents may also cause this condition. In instances when a portion of the brachial plexus is damaged during labor, a type of brachial plexus injury called Erb’s palsy may occur.

Erb’s palsy is characterized by complete or partial paralysis of the biceps and the lower arm. Babies with Erb’s palsy may also have a shoulder that is “hanging” and is rotated forward. The affected wrist may also be twisted inwards, and muscle weakness is noticeable.

According to the website of the Resmini Law Offices, Erb’s palsy can primarily be a result of medical negligence. A medical staff that is reckless or untrained may “pull” the baby harshly during labor, lugging the baby’s head away from its shoulder and causing brachial plexus damage. Wrong instrumentation during assisted delivery may also increase the risk of Erb’s palsy. Other factors associated with Erb’s palsy include mother’s small pelvic size, baby’s large size, heavy birth weight, and breech position.

Children with untreated Erb’s palsy may have an affected arm that’s smaller in girth and in length, and may also suffer from muscle atrophy (weakness). As such, it is important that Erb’s palsy is treated, either with surgery, with physical therapy, or both, to prevent these life-long complications.


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