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Stretching an Infant’s Brachial Plexus at Birth Can Result in Erb’s Palsy.

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss topics related to personal injury law.

Today’s question comes from a listener who asks: “My granddaughter was born after a very difficult and long labor, and during the delivery the doctor yanked on her arm and now there is something wrong with her arm and she can’t move it, can you help me?”

What this listener describes, a birth injury called Erb’s Palsy, happens in about one in every 1,000 births in the USA.

The bundle of nerves that run from the spine through the shoulder and to the ends of the fingers is called the Brachial Plexus. These nerves send signals that allow movement of the arms and hands. Sometimes during a delivery, the shoulder of the baby may become stretched or stuck behind the pelvic bone of the mother. It happens more frequently with large babies. When a baby’s Brachial Plexus is stretched or torn the result is Erb’s Palsy.

There are four types of Erb’s Palsy:

  • An Avulsion Injury is the most severe. This is when nerves are pulled out from the spinal cord. A complicated surgery like will be needed to restore function.
  • A Rupture Injury is when several nerves are torn. This injury likely will require surgery and therapy to restore function.
  • A Neuroma Injury results when scar tissue blocks the nerves and may require surgery.
  • A Stretch Injury is the least severe type, but it may take 1-2 years before complete function is restored.

If your child has Erb’s Palsy, the treatment will depend on the severity of the problem. The recovery for most children, however, is 3-9 months. In more severe cases, physical and even occupational therapy may be a necessary part of the treatment.

Since Erb’s Palsy is a largely preventable birth injury, if your child suffers from Erb’s Palsy, severe or mild, contact a lawyer.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions about your legal rights if you get hurt due to the carelessness of another person, or as a result of substandard medical care, or due to a product defect, construction injury, or any other type of personal injury, please give us a call at (219) 736-9700. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth”.