Injuries to nerves heal slowly or not at all. When Texas physicians diagnose infants with Erb’s palsy, months and sometimes years of therapy are needed to reduce paralysis and weakness caused by the condition. Erb’s palsy describes an injury to the brachial plexus, a bundle of nerves that connect the spinal cord with the shoulder, arm, and hand. Difficult or prolonged deliveries that stretch infants’ necks can be a cause of this.
One or two babies out of every 1,000 births experience this injury to varying degrees. Neurapraxia is the mildest form. The stretched nerves usually heal in about three months. A more severe stretch called neuroma that results in scar tissue will likely result in some permanent damage. The most severe stretches cause ruptures which pull the nerves out of the spinal cord.
Surgical attempts to splice donor nerves from elsewhere in the child’s body might restore some motion after a rupture. Physical therapy that continues for years could produce some relief for children afflicted by the worst levels of Erb’s palsy. Children need to perform daily exercises. These efforts reduce the stiffness in paralyzed joints. As the child grows, the injured shoulder and arm could be stunted.
Because the parents of an infant with Erb’s palsy could be facing ongoing therapy needs and surgeries, an attorney who has experience with birth injuries could provide support. To explore the possibility of a medical malpractice lawsuit, an attorney could have an independent physician evaluate the medical records and provide testimony. Evidence of negligence during the delivery could support a claim for compensation.