Erb’s palsy is a form of brachial plexus palsy. It is named after one of the doctors who first described this condition, Wilhelm Erb.
The brachial plexus is made up of five large nerves which come out of the spinal cord between the bones in the neck (the vertebrae). These nerves give movement and feeling to the arm. We represent these nerves with the symbols C5, C6, C7, C8 and T1. Shortly after coming out of the neck, the nerves come together and then divide among the muscles and tissues of the arm. The brachial plexus runs from the neck and passes under the collarbone to become the major nerves of the arm, at about the level of the armpit. If someone damages these nerves, it can lead to serious injuries.
Erb’s palsy is most often caused during birth. Applying too much force to the baby’s head while trying to pull out a baby stuck in the birth canal can damage the nerves of the brachial plexus, and this may occur if the baby is too large to fit through the birth canal.
We call the baby’s shoulder getting stuck in the birth canal ‘shoulder dystocia.’ Shoulder dystocia is an obstetric complication that occurs in thousands of deliveries each year in the UK. It has the potential for causing significant, lifelong injury to babies. There are still doctors and midwives all over the country who struggle to deal with this situation correctly.
One or two of every 1,000 babies have this condition. Most infants with brachial plexus birth palsy will recover both movement and feeling in the affected arm. Sadly, about 20% of the time, the injury is so severe that paralysis of the arm and shoulder is permanent. If there is no sign of recovery or improvement, you should seek the advice of a specialist, who may suggest surgery to repair the nerves of the brachial plexus.
The effects of Erb’s palsy can be devastating, and if you or your child have been affected by this condition, it is important that you seek the advice of an experienced lawyer.
Call us today for free initial discussion of your claim on 08000 448488.