There is always a risk of birth injury during any childbirth. Birth injuries can be very minor and heal themselves within a few weeks or can be a more serious, lifelong condition. Erb’s Palsy is a birth injury that results from nerve damage and can fit on any part of the severity scale depending on the depth of the injury. The injury typically occurs at the Erb’s Point which is the area around the baby’s neck where nerves merge to create the brachial plexus. Here are some of the potential causes and treatments of Erb’s Palsy.
Typically, Erb’s Palsy is a result of a difficult labor process. Here are the three main causes of Erb’s Palsy:
- Awkward Angle: A baby should pass through the birth canal vertically and with ease. When the baby passes through the canal at an awkward angle, it can lead to Erb’s Palsy. An example of an awkward angle is if the head is turned to one side while the arm is pulling in the opposite direction.
- Shoulder Tension: Sometimes, a baby has to be delivered face first due to how they are positioned or if the baby is significantly bigger than the birth canal. When these circumstances occur, it is hard to pull the baby out of the birth canal and doctors may pull on the baby’s shoulder more than they should, leading to Erb’s Palsy.
- Breech Birth: A breech birth is when the baby is delivered by their legs first. This type of birth means that the baby’s arms naturally will be pulled over their head as the doctor guides them out by the legs. Breech births can overstretch a baby’s limbs, which can cause nerve damage to the brachial plexus, leading to Erb’s Palsy.
Most babies that have Erb’s Palsy are referred to treatment centers that have people of all specialties including neurologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, etc. If the baby can’t go to a multidisciplinary treatment facility, there are a couple of other treatment options.
- Surgery: If surgery is the treatment method your doctor recommends for your child, it should be done within the first three to six months of birth. Performing the surgery at later times can reduce the chances of success. The first surgery technique involves performing microsurgical procedures when the child is three months and trying to restore some arm function when the child is six months. The other surgery technique attempts to completely repair the damaged nerves, which is a little more risky but also shows the most improvement.
- Non-Surgical: If the nerve damage is mild, physical therapy is probably the best option. Doctors will gently massage the arm as well as using range of motion exercises. Botox injections can also help with damaged nerves. If there is no sign of improvement around eight week into therapy, the doctor may resort to a surgical treatment.
Has Your Child Been Diagnosed With Erb’s Palsy as a Result of a Medical Mistake? Contact The Snyder Law Group Today
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