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Birth injuries can understandably have a devastating impact on the individual and their families, here medical negligence solicitors Blackwater Law discuss one such birth injury, Erb’s Palsy.
Erb’s Palsy is also known as Brachial Plexus Paralysis and occurs mainly due to birth trauma. In instances where birth trauma is a result of negligent care, it may be possible to pursue a birth injury compensation claim. The condition impacts up to all 5 of the primary nerves that supply the movement and feeling to an arm. The condition can vary significantly in its severity, with the most severe cases resulting in complete paralysis.
Approximately one in a thousand babies are born with this condition, which can have a lifelong impact on the individual and their family. Although it can occur after birth, the condition frequently occurs during delivery when the baby’s neck is stretched unnaturally as the head and shoulders pass through the birth canal. In instances where this occurs, it may be possible to pursue an Erb’s palsy claim should this have been the result of negligent care. Another factor that increases the risk of Erb’s palsy is if the baby is breech, this is because the arms still need to be brought over the baby’s head in order to allow them to fit through the birth canal and if they are pulled out by their feet this can lead to extensive stretching and increase the possibility of an injury occurring. In these instances it is vital for a medical professional to weigh up the risks of a breech delivery in order to minimise the chance of permanent damage occurring.
The impact of the injury depends on the severity of the damage, the mildest of which can correct itself over time and leave no lifelong injury. However, even in these injuries there is significant pain and discomfort to the baby and therapy is still likely to be required. The most complex type of Erb’s Palsy injury is avulsion where the nerve is torn completely away from the spinal cord and reattachment is not an option. This unfortunately means that the baby is unable to use the affected arm and in the most severe instances the arm will be completely motionless. Owing to the impact of the injury it is likely that surgery may be required, and the life of the family adapted to ensure the comfort of the baby. Where negligence has resulting in a severe injury it may be possible to seek Erb’s Palsy compensation.
In order to minimise the risks of Erb’s Palsy occurring, it is important for mothers to attend their pre-natal appointments. This will help medical professionals to understand if the mother and baby are at increased risk due to the positioning of the baby or the size of the mother and baby. Where there is a high risk it may be more practical for an alternative birth to be suggested, such as a c-section. However, unfortunately it is not always possible to prevent Erb’s Palsy, with particular deliveries increasing the risk, including vacuum or forcep delivery or where second stage labour has lasted for a long time. In these instances, medical professionals need to closely monitor both baby and mother to try and reduce any injury from occurring and to minimise the potential for a birth injury claim.
In the event you feel your child has received an Erb’s Palsy injury at birth, you should contact a specialist Erb’s Palsy solicitor to get advice on whether you may be able to claim compensation. Blackwater Law offer a free initial chat to find out if you could make a claim.