There is a network of nerves (the brachial plexus) which exit the cervical spine in the neck. These nerves are responsible for providing movement and feeling to shoulders, fingers, hands, wrists, and arms.
One in about every 1,000 babies is born with a weakened arm because this network of nerves has been injured during birth.
Erb’s Palsy, or Erb-Duchenne Palsy, is a lack of motor and sensory function, or possibly even paralysis of a shoulder, arm, hand, wrist or fingers resulting from brachial plexus nerve damage. Klumpke’s palsies affecting the wrist and/or hand function also result from nerve injuries to the brachial plexus nerves. These types of injuries can occur during a difficult childbirth where the delivering healthcare provider does not take the necessary steps to protect the referenced nerves from being stretched or torn or applies too much pressure or traction during the delivery.
Depending on the severity of the nerve damage, Erb’s Palsy and Klumpke’s Palsy can have a significant impact on a child’s future. Even children who undergo a successful surgery to repair their nerves may continue to experience weakness, numbness, pain in their shoulder, arm, wrist or hand, and even cosmetic deformities (such as shortening of the arm which may increase with age, small size of the hand, and a “popped-out” or prominent shoulder blade known as winging of the scapula). Some children even require surgery later in life to improve function.
The right support, therapy and counseling may help an affected child develop a healthy sense of self-esteem. However, these palsies and their associated physical deformities play a lifelong role in ones perception of themselves; and physical limitations significantly affect ones employment opportunities and income potential.
The parents of a child with Erb’s Palsy would be well advised to research their options. If the Erb’s Palsy or Klumpke’s Palsy was the result of a birth injury caused by mistakes made by a doctor, midwife, or medical staff, parents may be able to seek compensation on behalf of their children for medical expenses and other related damages. If your child is suffering from Erb’s Palsy or Klumpke’s Palsy, please contact us to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.