What is the long-term impact of a birth injury resulting in Erb’s Palsy?

If your baby was injured during delivery, he or she may suffer from a condition known as Erb’s Palsy. Erb’s Palsy is a form of brachial plexus disorder resulting from nerve damage in the baby’s upper arm during delivery. The affected nerves give movement and feeling to the baby’s arm, hands, and fingers. As a result, babies with Erb’s Palsy may have issues with the spinal cord’s ability to send messages to the arm, wrist, hand, or fingers through normal nerve impulses.

Four Facts About the Long-Term Prognosis for Erb’s Palsy

Over the long-term, the impact of Erb’s Palsy on a baby depends largely on the severity of the injury. The following is an overview of what parents can expect:

  1. Mild cases of Erb’s Palsy may resolve in 3-6 months if the baby undergoes physical therapy treatments.
  2. Approximately 70-80 percent of Erb’s Palsy cases resolve within one year from birth if the baby receives proper and consistent treatment. A positive sign that the condition will resolve is if the infant is able to grasp objects or make fists with the affected hand during treatment sessions.
  3. A smaller percentage of babies will face lifelong problems caused by their Erb’s Palsy. This may include permanent loss of function in the arm and abnormal muscle contractions. These children may have difficulty participating in sports and other activities.
  4. Psychologically, some babies who suffer from Erb’s Palsy may face long-term self-esteem issues, difficulty with performing tasks, and feelings of anger and frustration.

It is important to note that the younger a patient begins receiving treatment, the better the long-term prognosis will be.

Even where the condition is mild, babies who suffer from Erb’s Palsy require significant medical treatment and therapy. It is therefore crucial that parents pursue all of their legal options for compensation. Fortunately, you may have grounds for a claim if the condition was caused by the negligence of the delivering physician.


Gabriel A. Assaad
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Partner Gabriel Assaad represents victims of negligence and medical malpractice nationwide.