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Brachial Plexus Nerves - Providence Erb's Palsy Attorneys
June 13, 2024

Which Nerves are Damaged by Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s palsy is caused by damage to the brachial plexus, a complex network of nerves that originates from the spinal cord in the neck and travels through the armpit region, supplying nerves to the shoulder, arm, forearm, and hand. In cases of Erb’s palsy, the most commonly affected nerves are the upper roots, which consist of C5, C6, and C7. Damage to these nerves can cause weakness or paralysis of the deltoid and biceps muscles, which can cause the arm to hang and rotate inward with a flexed wrist and curled fingers. This is sometimes referred to as a “waiter’s tip” posture.

The severity of Erb’s palsy depends on the extent of damage done to the brachial plexus. Some infants may experience only mild discomfort and minimal dysfunction, while others could face significant challenges that include the inability to crawl, grasp, or reach as they grow. Severe cases may affect a child’s ability to perform daily activities and require ongoing medical treatment such as physical therapy to improve joint function and muscle strength, occupational therapy to assist with daily tasks, and surgery to repair nerve damage.

Living with Erb’s palsy can take a heavy emotional and physical toll on a child. It can place an unfair burden on families as well. When the root cause of the condition is a birth injury sustained through medical negligence, legal action may help to secure needed compensation for treatment and other considerations.

If you suspect your child’s condition is the result of medical malpractice, the Providence Erb’s palsy attorneys at Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell are here to help. Call us at 401-273-8100 today to schedule a FREE and confidential case review and learn more about your options and rights.

Common Causes of Erb’s Palsy

Erb’s palsy results when an infant’s head and neck are stretched too far to the side during delivery. The most common cause of this issue is shoulder dystocia, which occurs when a baby’s shoulder becomes stuck in the mother’s pelvis. A medical emergency, shoulder dystocia requires skillful and careful delivery techniques to avoid placing stress on the infant’s neck. Excessive pulling force, improper use of delivery tools, or failure to perform emergency procedures—such as a cesarean section—may all lead to brachial plexus damage and increase the risk of Erb’s palsy.

Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of shoulder dystocia. These include:

  • Prolonged Labor: Extended labor can cause a higher level of stress and strain on the baby, leading to a greater risk of nerve damage.
  • Large Baby Size: Babies with a higher birth weight are more susceptible to shoulder dystocia, making them more vulnerable to brachial plexus injuries.
  • Gestational Diabetes: Mothers with gestational diabetes are more likely to have larger babies, heightening the risk of a difficult delivery.
  • A History of Deliveries Involving Shoulder Dystocia: If there is a history of difficult births involving shoulder dystocia, there is a higher likelihood of recurrence in subsequent deliveries.

In many cases, these risks can be mitigated through careful monitoring and appropriate delivery techniques. Failure to offer these techniques or to recognize the need for emergency services may be a form of medical malpractice. If you believe that medical negligence played a role in your child developing Erb’s palsy, it is essential to seek the advice of knowledgeable attorneys who can investigate the underlying causes of your child’s injury and help you determine if you are entitled to seek compensation through legal action.

Is Erb’s Palsy Permanent?

Whether Erb’s palsy is permanent depends on the amount of force used and the severity of the nerve damage. Some children may recover on their own or with the help of physical therapy, while others may require surgical intervention to improve their condition. The prognosis for each child varies, making early and comprehensive medical evaluation and treatment essential for improving outcomes.

Regardless of the permanence of your child’s condition, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more. Treatments—which can range from daily physical therapy exercises to nerve grafts or transfers in more severe cases—may result in expensive medical bills, time away from work, and financial and emotional hardship. During your free case review with one of our Providence Erb’s palsy attorneys, we will carefully evaluate your case, discuss all of your options, and help you determine how to proceed.

When to Call an Erb’s Palsy Attorney

If you suspect that your child’s Erb’s palsy was caused by medical malpractice, it’s a good idea to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Birth injury cases can be extremely difficult to navigate. Having experienced legal counsel on your side helps to ensure your rights are protected and the best interests of your child are served.

An Erb’s palsy lawyer can help with:

  • Case Assessment: This may include a review of medical records, consulting with medical experts, and evaluating the delivery process to determine if negligence occurred.
  • Understanding Your Legal Rights and Options: An attorney can explain the complexities of medical malpractice law and how they apply to your case, ensuring you are fully informed to make decisions about how to proceed.
  • Filing a Birth Injury Claim: This includes preparing all necessary documentation, representing you in court if needed, and negotiating with the responsible parties for a fair settlement.
  • Securing Compensation: An attorney will fight for just compensation to help secure a verdict or settlement that reflects the challenges and needs your child will face.

The Providence Erb’s palsy attorneys at Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell have nearly 50 years of experience helping families seek fair and full compensation. We have a proud history of successfully handling medical malpractice cases and have secured numerous significant verdicts and settlements for individuals and families who have suffered injury due to negligent or inadequate care. Our attorneys—recognized both locally and nationally for their professionalism, integrity, and effectiveness—are here to stand by your side, provide the support you need, and fight tirelessly for the justice you deserve.

Contact Our Providence Erb’s Palsy Attorneys for a FREE Case Review

If you are dealing with the effects of Erb’s palsy and believe it may be due to medical negligence, contact Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell for a FREE consultation today. Located in Providence, we serve all nearby areas of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.