Great Tips For Finding A Reliable Erb's Palsy Lawyer In Your Area
October 20, 2019 - If you are expecting a child, chances are that people seem to be coming out of the woodwork not only to congratulate you, but also to tell you horror stories about birth defects. Of course, no parent ever wants to have a child born with a birth defect, no matter how minor or how treatable. If it does happen to you, however, know that you have options.
One type of birth defect that is more common than you may think is called Erb's palsy. Read on to learn what it is and how to find an Erb's palsy lawyer to help you seek compensation if necessary.
First, What Is Erb's Palsy?
Erb’s palsy falls under the umbrella of brachial plexus palsies, or conditions that affect the network of nerves leading from the neck to the arm. The word "palsy" means weakness. So Erb's palsy is a congenital weakness in the arm, caused by a nerve injury that occurs during birth.
Erb’s palsy typically occurs if an obstetrician or other medical provider pulls or stretches the infant’s neck, head, or shoulders as they emerge from the birth canal. As a result, the nerves in the brachial plexus become stretched or torn.
The risk factors for Erb's palsy include, but are not limited to:
- High birth weight
- Presentation of the baby in a breech position
- Prolonged labor
- Forceps extraction
- Vacuum extraction
It's important to realize that a child can still sustain an injury even if none of these risk factors are evident. In some cases, it's simply a matter of the obstetrician using too much force, or inadvertently stretching the infant's head a little too far to one side.
What Is the Outcome of an Erb's Palsy Diagnosis?
This type of birth defect runs the gamut from extremely mild to very severe. In less serious cases, the infant may have weakness in the arm and hand or a limited range of motion. In an instance like this, the palsy generally resolves itself without medical intervention, in the first few months of the baby's life.
On the other end of the spectrum, the infant may be completely paralyzed, experience pain, and require surgical intervention to repair the damaged nerves. While permanent nerve damage as a result of Erb's palsy is relatively rare, it can happen.
Occupational and Physical Therapy Often Do the Trick
Two of the first-line treatments for Erb's palsy are physical therapy and occupational therapy. These are often very effective, especially in minor cases. Many patients make a full recovery thanks to OT and PT.
Physical therapy uses exercises and gentle massage to improve range of motion and counteract muscle stiffness. Occupational therapy is similar in that it addresses muscle tone and joint function. It also focuses on practical movements geared toward a baby's development stage. So an occupational therapist might work with the child to help them learn skills like grasping, holding, and even crawling.
Together, these treatments help improve a patient’s ability to operate his arm and hand in a normal fashion and do all the things other babies of that age can do.
Surgery Is Necessary In Some Cases
More serious cases of this birth defect will require at least one operation, but possibly multiple ones, depending on the degree of severity.
Surgery usually entails a nerve graft, which takes healthy nerves from another part of the infant's body and joins them to the damaged nerve. Nerves regenerate much more slowly than other components of the body. Therefore it may take a while for the results of the surgery to become apparent.
Pediatricians recommend performing the surgery as early as possible to ensure the best possible outcome. Surgery will be followed up with physical and occupational therapy, with the goal of aiding the child's development of mobility and strength.
Potential Damages and Compensation
If your child developed Erb's palsy as the result of a medical professional's negligence during birth, there is help available. You may be entitled to economic and non-economic damages and compensation for expenses such as:
- Medical appointments to assess a child’s injury and develop a treatment plan
- Consultations with specialists
- The cost of surgeries, including hospital inpatient stays for the child
- Physical therapy and occupational therapy
- The loss of parental income due to medical care of the infant
Having a child who needs extensive medical care can be an expensive proposition. It also takes a very different, but no less valid, emotional toll on the patient's family members.
To that end, parents of Erb's palsy patients may receive compensation for non-economic damages such as emotional and physical pain and suffering. While some states put caps on the dollar amounts of money that can be recovered for this type of damage, others do not.
Finding a Reliable Erb's Palsy Lawyer
Since Erb's palsy isn't that widely known, your best bet for winning a medical malpractice case is to find a lawyer who specializes in these types of injuries. An Erb's palsy lawyer will have a thorough understanding of this birth defect and how it affects both patient and family.
There are a variety of medical errors that might be to blame for Erb's palsy, including:
- A doctor or midwife who pulls, tugs or yanks on the baby’s arm during birth
- Improperly using tools that assist with a difficult birth, such as forceps or vacuum extraction tool
- Failure to monitor and address signs of fetal distress
- Failure to carry out an emergency Caesarian section in a timely fashion
When you contact an attorney, he or she will advise your family of the feasibility of bringing a lawsuit against a negligent doctor or other professional.
Need Help for a Birth Defect?
After the diagnosis, you may be confused and uncertain about what your child's future holds. You may not know where to turn for help or what your first step should be. That's where an experienced, compassionate Erb's palsy lawyer comes in.
Want more information about medicine as it intersects with law? Check out our Health section on our blog.
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