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Understanding the nature of Erb’s palsy

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2018 | Uncategorized

Doctors have a very important and delicate role in childbirth. They should be ready for any complications that may arise such as larger babies or prolonged labor. Any mistakes they make in the process can have serious repercussions towards the child’s future.

One traumatic injury that could result from doctor negligence is Erb’s palsy. This condition has been the basis for several birth injury lawsuits, but just what does it do a child and how did the doctor cause this?


Erb’s palsy is a form of brachial plexus palsy that affects the upper nerves of the baby’s body. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves near the neck that controls the movement of the arm, hand, and shoulder.

If these nerves experience severe trauma, the child will have difficulty moving one arm. The infant could feel the arm is weaker than the other one, not feel it at all, or stop moving it all together. If you find that your baby is moving one arm significantly more than the other, you should go to the doctor as soon as possible to check the condition.


The majority of brachial plexus injuries are the result of a doctor placing too much pressure on the nerves in the birthing process. There are various birthing complications and methods that can lead to this.

If the baby is delivered head or feet first, the doctor might give additional force for extraction that could stretch the baby’s neck down towards the shoulders or upwards depending on the position. Since this is where the brachial plexus is, that force presents a great risk for Erb’s palsy.

It is not just the neck that doctors should concern themselves with. Having the arm tugged too much in a direction can result in major nerve damage. This can occur if they try to pull the baby by the arms when it comes out head first or if the arm is pulled in the opposite direction of the head at some point during the delivery.

While a delivery tool such as a vacuum extractor can help with the process, it is also capable of adding too much pressure itself.

Lifelong effects

If you found out that your child has Erb’s palsy, you need to seek the right treatment out immediately. Depending on the severity of the condition, your child may need physical therapy or surgery. Sometimes they may be able to heal naturally.

If treatment does not work, then your child will grow up with an impaired arm. One of the arms will have significantly reduced mobility and may grow at a slower rate than the other arm. This imbalance in body growth can cause muscle pain and major discomfort.

Should your child have to live with this condition, then you should review your child’s birth circumstances to see if the birth injury was preventable or even caused by the doctors.