Many newborns in Michigan experience minor injuries during birth, which can range from mild to serious, depending on the damage and harm to the baby. Sometimes, due to many different factors, the nerves of the baby’s upper arm can be damaged. These nerves control motor functions in the arm, hand, and fingers. This condition is called Erb’s Palsy, sometimes also known as brachial plexus birth palsy.
This birth injury makes it difficult for babies to move the shoulder and upper arm area. The brachial plexus damage on the nerves likely occurred during the mother’s difficult labor. Parents need to know about the risks involved concerning birth injuries. Read on to find out more about Erb’s Palsy and Brachial Plexus injuries.
Pregnancy Risk Factors
Some factors make a pregnancy high-risk, increasing the baby’s chances of developing certain medical conditions. The following are the risk factors for Erb’s Palsy:
- Maternal obesity
- Previous history of delivering an infant with a similar injury
- Advanced maternal age
- Large infant size
- Use of assistive devices
- Gestational diabetes
These factors may lead to a difficult delivery, as well as other birth complications. Always consult with the doctor to stay educated about potential challenges.
Causes of Erb’s Palsy
Having a difficult delivery can lead to a plethora of issues for both the mother and the baby. Complications tend to arise when the delivery does not go smoothly that the doctor will have to intervene. In some cases, the baby may experience birth trauma. These are the two leading causes of Erb’s Palsy and brachial plexus injuries:
- Shoulder dystocia
Many different kinds of birth trauma can cause Erb’s palsy and brachial plexus injuries, especially when shoulder dystocia is involved. When the shoulder gets stuck during delivery, it might not come out immediately after the head. Doctors intervene by pulling the baby’s head, but when they pull too hard, the baby’s shoulder will feel the strain. This pressure on the brachial plexus nerves can lead to tearing or severe damage.
- Misuse of assistive devices
Assistive devices, such as forceps and vacuum extractors, increase the risk of harm. The devices apply force to the baby’s head, and if used improperly, the baby may suffer internal bleeding.
Physicians must be gentle in delivering the baby and pulling on the head. Improper use may also increase the risk of shoulder dystocia, which often causes Erb’s palsy. In some cases, delivery via C-section is recommended as a safer option.
Sign and Symptoms of Injury
Several signs may indicate that the baby is suffering an injury to the brachial plexus. Parents must be aware of the signs to watch out so they can bring the child to the pediatrician. Do pay attention to the arms and see how they move. Watch out for these signs:
- Limited or no sensation in the arm (not responding to touch, temperature, or pain)
- Pain or muscle atrophy in the arm
- Unusual or abnormal arm movement
- Impaired development
- Claw hand or limping arm with hand curling towards the rear
- Wear or minimal reflexes and grip on the affected side
To formally diagnose it, the physician will perform physical examination and x-ray to assess the damage. Other tests are available and can be utilized to make a more accurate evaluation regarding the nerve signals.
Recommended Treatment for a Brachial Plexus Injury
It’s possible for babies to recover on their own, but doctors recommend proper treatment and therapy. The rate of complete muscle recovery is between 80% and 96%. There are available treatments for Erb’s Palsy and brachial plexus injuries, but here are the most common ones:
- Therapy – Extreme forms of brachial plexus injuries need proper treatment such as physical therapy and/or neonatal neurosurgery.
- Subscapularis releases – The procedure involves cutting into the muscle to allow it to stretch in the arm. It may be repeatedly performed at any age, but it can damage the muscle.
- Nerve transplants – This is not ideal for older infants because permanent nerve damage is riskier. The quick development of babies under nine months helps advance the efficacy of the procedure.
- Latissimus Dorsi Tendon Transfers – The doctor will cut the Latissimus Dorsi and attach part of the muscle to the biceps. The procedure may cause sensitivity in that area.
Most babies regain full range of motion within 3-9 months. Any longer than that, the baby has slimmer chances of regaining complete function. It’s better to get the endorsed treatment immediately. Parents need to perform constant rehabilitative exercises with the baby to reduce permanent damage. There must be frequent examination to ensure that the baby is recovering.
As a long-term effect, the children may experience abnormal circulatory development in the affected area. This dampens their ability to regulate temperature and weakens the skin’s healing capacity. The child may also experience arthritis in the long run.
Is there a Possibility of Medical Malpractice and/or Negligence? Reach out to The Clark Law Office.
If your child developed a birth injury, it’s possible that there had been medical malpractice and negligence on the part of the attending physician or hospital. Birth injuries can cause long-term serious financial challenges to the child and the family. That is why you should fight for just compensation to support your child’s future.
Contact The Clark Law Office today and let’s discuss your case and how it can move forward. With our years of experience and expertise in Michigan law, we can help you recover damages and receive proper compensation. You need to get the results you deserve, and we know how to achieve it.