Brachial plexus palsy is a relatively common birth injury that affects a lot of newborns in New Jersey. About one or two babies per 1,000 are born with some form of brachial plexus palsy. One of the most common forms of brachial plexus palsy is called Erb’s palsy.
What is Erb’s palsy?
The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that run through the neck, spinal cord, arms, hands, and fingers. When there is damage to these nerves, the resulting weakness is called “palsy” in medical terminology. Erb’s palsy is brachial plexus palsy that involves injury to the upper part of the nerves in the brachial plexus.
Infants with Erb’s palsy may be able to move their fingers, but not their shoulder on one side. If an infant cannot move their shoulder or their fingers, their condition is called total brachial plexus palsy. Erb’s palsy refers to an injury that’s isolated to the upper part of the nerves.
What causes Erb’s palsy?
Difficult deliveries and prolonged births can cause damage to a baby’s nerves, which results in Erb’s palsy. Damage occurs when the baby’s neck is stretched so much that the nerves are stretched also. Some risk factors for Erb’s palsy include a baby that is born in a breech position and a baby that is relatively large at birth. When medical negligence leads to Erb’s palsy, doctors could be held responsible for the resulting harm through a malpractice claim.
Can Erb’s palsy heal on its own?
Symptoms of Erb’s palsy can present in the same way no matter how the injury occurred. The baby will have a loss of feeling and movement on the affected side. Whether the injury can heal on its own depends on how severe the injury was.
In many cases, nerves in the shoulder were only stretched, and Erb’s palsy will be able to heal on its own in a few months. In more severe cases, a baby’s nerves were ruptured or even torn away from the spinal cord. These severe forms of Erb’s palsy may require surgery.