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Posted On August 28, 2017

The Difference Between Brachial Plexus Injury & Erb’s Palsy

A brachial plexus injury is a type of birth trauma related to delivery. The brachial plexus is a network of 5 nerve groups that travel from the spinal cord to the fingers, wrists, arms, and shoulders. During birth, a baby’s shoulder might get lodged behind the mother’s pubic bone. The mother’s contractions put pressure on the baby’s neck and body, which can be fatal. Children with brachial plexus injuries require extensive medical treatment, which might include surgery and physical therapy. Some children with brachial plexus injuries have emotional and self-esteem difficulties because of the injury.

What Is Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s palsy is a form of brachial plexus disorder usually triggered during the birthing process. It is is named after Wilhelm Erb, one of the doctors who first described the condition. Erb’s palsy is caused by damage to the upper C5 and C6 nerves. These nerves provide movement and feeling to the shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers. Children with Erb’s palsy have partial or full paralysis of their arm, which hangs to the side and cannot be fully raised. If both the upper and lower nerves are stretched, the condition is usually more severe than just Erb’s palsy. This is called “global” or “total” brachial plexus birth palsy. Usually, 1 to 2 babies out of every 1,000 will be affected by Erb’s palsy.

Potential Causes Erb’s Palsy

Brachial plexus injuries in newborns typically occur with difficult deliveries, like a large baby, a breech presentation, or prolonged labor. These injuries can also happen when the person assisting the delivery must deliver the baby quickly and exert some force to pull the baby from the birth canal. If one side of the baby’s neck is stretched, the nerves may also be stretched, and injury may result. Risk factors associated with Erb’s palsy include:

  • Small Maternal Size
  • Large Infant Size
  • Improper Use of Birthing Tools
  • Extended Labor
  • Excessive Weight Gain By Mother

Need Help With Your Case?

Our Indiana injury lawyers have experience handling lawsuits where errors were made that resulted in life-threatening harm to our clients. At Langer & Langer, we understand the various problems that occur in delivery rooms and who can be held liable for your injury. With over 100 years of collective experience, we can thoroughly review your case and determine your legal options to try to obtain the best results possible. Let us help you seek compensation.

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