Erb’s palsy can be a traumatic birth injury, so California parents are understandably worried when it happens to their children. Erb’s palsy is a condition caused when a baby’s neck is stretched too far to one side during a difficult delivery. This stretching usually causes some sort of permanent or temporary damage involving the network of nerves that run down the spine and allow people to have feeling in their arms. In some cases, Erb’s palsy can resolve on its own, but more severe cases may need therapy and surgery.
What types of Erb’s palsy injuries are there?
There are several types of Erb’s palsy injuries. The key challenge for many doctors is determining which type a patient suffers from since diagnosing the condition can be difficult.
- Neuropraxia is probably the most common type of Erb’s palsy. Also referred to as stingers or burners, neuropraxia happens when a nerve is stretched but doesn’t break. These types of injuries usually don’t require any medical intervention because they heal on their own.
- Neuroma is a more serious type of Erb’s palsy. This type of injury is a stretch injury that does damage to some of the nerve fibers. With a neuroma, scar tissue can form as the nerve heals, causing pressure on healthy nerves and making the patient uncomfortable. This type of Erb’s palsy usually only has partial instead of complete recovery.
- A rupture is an Erb’s palsy injury where the nerve is torn. These types of injuries require surgery to stitch the nerve back together as they will not be able to heal on their own.
- The most serious type of Erb’s palsy is avulsions. With this type of medical mistake, the nerves are ripped away from the spinal cord. Doctors sometimes attempt to repair these injuries by taking healthy nerves from other parts of the body and replacing the damaged nerve, but the torn nerve itself cannot be reattached to the spinal cord. This type of Erb’s palsy can make it difficult for the patient to breathe since it often affects the nerves surrounding the diaphragm.
What can parents of children with Erb’s palsy do?
Erb’s palsy is very distressing for parents, and they may not know where to turn. They may benefit by working with attorneys who have experience working on birth injury malpractice cases. An attorney may help them assess the situation to determine if a doctor’s mistake caused the injury and is a form of malpractice.