A number of things can happen during the labor and delivery process that can cause a child to suffer injuries. Damage to nerves in the neck and shoulder region known as the brachial plexus is actually fairly common. Sometimes, such an injury will heal in a short amount of time, but sometimes that damage may be permanent. Infants in Louisiana and elsewhere who suffer injury to the superior trunk of the brachial plexus are said to have the birth injury Erb’s Palsy, which leaves many children with permanent impairments.
Erb’s Palsy occurs when the head and shoulder are essentially pulled to an extreme while the infant is working his or her way through the birth canal. The nerves get stretched far beyond what they should, which can cause the child to experience weakness in the shoulder and arm of the affected side. This injury may happen if the infant gets stuck in the mother’s pelvis, if labor is prolonged or if an assist device is used — such as forceps.
Diagnosing Erb’s Palsy is fairly easy. It requires imagining and/or nerves tests. Common tests used to check for Erb’s Palsy include:
Treatment for Erb’s Palsy depends on the severity of the injury. Some patients require physical therapy, while some require surgical intervention. According to the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine, 20 to 25 percent of all infants diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy will experience permanent impairment even if they receive treatment.
Louisiana residents whose children suffered the birth injury Erb’s Palsy due to medical negligence may be entitled to seek compensation for any resulting losses. These losses may be economic or noneconomic in nature; they may be current or projected losses — every case is different. An experienced attorney will have the ability to investigate one’s case, provide legal guidance on the matter and even help one pursue compensation through litigation or settlement negotiation, if doing so is thought appropriate.