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About Erb's palsy

Expectant parents in New Jersey should be aware of Erb's Palsy, a type of brachial plexus palsy. It is a condition that can occur in one or two out of every thousand deliveries. The most common cause for the condition is when the baby's neck is overextended to the side during a complicated delivery.

The brachial plexus consists of the nerves that extend from the spinal cord to the finger, hand and arm. The nerves pass in between the vertebrae located at the neck and extend into the arm. The nerves merge along the side of the neck and branch out. The upper brachial plexus nerves are affected in the majority of brachial plexus birth palsy cases, causing Erb's palsy. The infants may be able to move their fingers, but not their shoulder. Cases in which the lower and upper nerves are both stretched are referred to as total brachial plexus birth palsy, which is more severe than Erb's palsy.

With regular physical therapy, the majority of infants who have brachial plexus birth palsy will be able to regain sensation and movement in the affected arm. In order for the child to regain the complete function in the arm, parents will have to step in an active role with their child's physical therapy.

Complicate deliveries, such as those that are breech, involve a large baby or are prolonged, are more likely to result in brachial plexus stretch injuries in infants. The injuries can also occur when a delivery suddenly becomes complicated and the baby must be quickly and forcibly pulled from the birth canal.

The parents of injured infants may have legal recourse if their infants are injured during delivery procedures. A medical malpractice attorney may be able to pursue financial damages against medical professionals whose negligent treatment resulted in birthing injuries.

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