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Understanding Erb’s palsy

On Behalf of | Jul 31, 2017 | Medical Malpractice

Expectant parents in Louisiana understandably want to be excited for the birth of their new loved one. However, it is also important for moms and dads to be educated about the potential problems that they should watch for during labor and delivery and even after birth. It is possible for a newborn to experience an injury during the birthing process that leaves them permanently disabled. Erb’s palsy is one such disability.

According to the Mayo Clinic, when labor extends for lengthy periods of time or when a baby is feet first instead of head first, the risk of Erb’s palsy may increase. These situations may make it more likely for the baby’s shoulders to get lodged in the birth canal.

WebMD explains that the muscles in the upper shoulder and arm area are called the upper brachial plexus. A palsy is a type of weakness or paralysis. When the upper brachial plexus is damaged during labor or delivery, brachial plexus palsy or Erb’s palsy may result. There are four levels of brachial plexus palsy depending upon the severity of the injury.

The least severe is when the nerves have been stretched but not torn. The other three levels all include some form of tear in the nerves. Scar tissue may appear in areas that attempted to heal in a neuroma. The most severe form is when the nerves are severed from the point of attachment. Some babies with Erb’s palsy may have weak arms, shoulders or hands while others may be fully paralyzed in the affected arm or shoulder.