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What is Erb's palsy and what causes it?

Nearly everyone has heard of cerebral palsy. Far fewer are familiar with a condition called Erb's palsy, or brachial plexus palsy. Many people learn about it only when it happens to their child. It affects the brachial plexus, which is a group of nerves in the neck area that lead to nerves in the arms, shoulders and hands.

The condition is often caused by a baby's neck being stretched toward one side during birth. It occurs in only one or two out of every 1,000 births. There are four different kinds of nerve injuries that fall into this category. Some babies experience all four. They have different levels of severity.

This type of birth injury often occurs when a woman has a difficult delivery. It can happen when a baby is in the breech position, when he or she is large, if the mother is in labor for a long time or if a baby has to be removed quickly because of a problem during childbirth.

Children with Erb's palsy will often have weakness, loss of feeling and/or paralysis in one arm. Often, the baby's pediatrician diagnoses it. The type of treatment prescribed will depend on how serious the condition is. In most cases, children recover feeling and movement in the affected arm with physical therapy. However, in some cases, the arm never reaches the same size as the other one.

If your child is suffering from Erb's palsy, you may wish to seek legal guidance to determine whether an injury during childbirth could have been prevented. If medical malpractice was involved, you may be able to seek compensation via civil litigation. This can help pay for medical care, surgery, physical therapy and any other type of treatment that your child may require. You may also be able to recover compensation for other damages.

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, "Erb's Palsy (Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy)," accessed July 03, 2015

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