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Harrisburg and Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Lawyers

Representing Victims of Erb’s Palsy Birth Injury

Erb’s palsy is a type of brachial plexus injury that affects only the upper arm.  More specifically, the major deficit lies in moving the upper arm around the shoulder and elbow region as well rotating the lower arm.  Erb’s palsy is caused by a stretching of the brachial plexus, a group of nerves near the neck.  These nerves are responsible for the movement and feeling of the shoulder, arm and hand.  Many times, Erb’s palsy occurs as a result of medical malpractice.

Causes of Erb’s Palsy

Most cases of Erb’s palsy are a result of an obstetrical emergency known as shoulder dystocia.  This condition occurs when an infant’s shoulder becomes stuck on the mother’s pelvic bone.  Shoulder dystocia is a treatable medical condition.  First and foremost, medical professionals need to recognize the potential risk factors that increase an infant’s likelihood of suffering a brachial plexus injury.  These include a difficult labor and delivery, maternal diabetes, short maternal stature, increased fetal weight and a breech presentation delivery.  Obstetricians are trained in specific procedures that are supposed to be used in an effort to dislodge the baby’s shoulder.  Examples include the McRoberts maneuver, intentionally breaking the baby’s clavicle bone or delivering the baby via caesarean section.

Unfortunately, in some instances the shoulder dystocia may not be properly identified or treated in a timely manner.  Doctors should recommend a caesarean section delivery when the risk for Erb’s palsy is too high and the baby can’t be safely delivered using the proper maneuvers.  Physicians may also use too much force or pressure either with the use of forceps or a vacuum or manually pulling on the baby.  Any improper technique can cause a stretching or tearing to the nerves in the brachial plexus leading to an Erb’s palsy injury.

Signs of Erb’s Palsy

The symptoms associated with Erb’s palsy are usually immediately apparent at birth; however, the full extent of the damage may not be known for months later.  An infant born with an Erb’s palsy injury will typically show the following signs and symptoms:

  • The affected arm is limp and held close against the body with the elbow flexed inward
  • There will be little or no movement of the arm
  • The infant’s hand grip may be weakened
  • Infants will also lack the newborn startle or Moro reflex
  • Loss of sensation
  • The affected arm may grow at a much slower pace than the unaffected arm resulting in a noticeable size difference

Treatment of Erb’s Palsy

Milder cases of an Erb’s palsy injury will heal by themselves within a few months.  The recovery process for more serious cases can take months to years.  Daily physical and occupational therapies are used to help improve motor function and strength.  Parental involvement is crucial, as these exercises need to be performed on a regular basis.  Surgical procedures may also be recommended.  Surgery is most effective when performed within the first year of life.  These can include tendon, muscle or nerve transfers, nerve grafts and reconstructive procedures.  Despite all these treatments, some Erb’s palsy victims will suffer lifelong weakness and decreased motor function.

The Law Offices of James R. Moyles:  Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg Committed to Protecting the Rights of Birth Injury Victims

If your child has suffered an Erb’s palsy birth injury, call The Moyles Law Firm today to discuss your potential medical malpractice claim with one our experienced personal injury lawyersWe can determine if you have the right to pursue a birth injury lawsuit.  We believe that health care providers need to be held accountable for their negligence or carelessness in causing undue harm to innocent children.  Our Pittsburgh medical malpractice lawyers will fight tirelessly on your behalf to ensure that you recover the maximum compensation that your child needs and deserves.  Contact the Law Offices of James R. Moyles today to schedule a free consultation with a reputable medical malpractice lawyer.  Call our Pittsburgh office at 412-281-1055 or our Harrisburg office at 717-233-5400 or you can contact us online.

James R. Moyles

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