Cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy are two conditions that affect an infant’s movement and coordination. They are also two types of birth injury, which means that they can occur as the result of a physician’s negligence just prior to birth, during an infant’s birth, or shortly after birth.
When a child suffers from cerebral or Erb’s palsy, he or she may be disabled for life. There are treatments available to children with these conditions that can help them. A treatment’s success depends on the condition the child faces, the severity of the condition, and the age at which the child receives treatment.
Cerebral palsy is a term that actually refers to many different conditions, all of which affect the patient’s movement and coordination abilities. As its name implies, cerebral palsy is an injury to the brain. When the area of the brain responsible for movement, balance, and coordination suffers an impact or forms incorrectly, the child can suffer from cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy can be the result of complications present before birth, such as exposure to radiation, infection, or a lack of oxygen while in utero. During birth, obstructions to the birth canal and other conditions that limit the infant’s oxygen level can put him or her at risk of suffering from cerebral palsy. Head injuries sustained during and shortly after birth can also cause a child to suffer from cerebral palsy.
Symptoms of cerebral palsy include:
- Slow growth;
- Difficulty with movement, such as rolling over, sitting up, or walking;
- Overactive reflexes;
- Muscle weakness; and
- Involuntary movements.
There is no cure for cerebral palsy, but there are treatments that can help children regain control of their muscles and develop motor skills and coordination. These include muscle relaxant drugs, occupational and physical therapy, and in some cases, surgery.
A common myth about children with cerebral palsy is that they also suffer from cognitive disabilities. Although it certainly is possible for a child to suffer from cerebral palsy and learning disorders concurrently, this is not always the case.
Erb’s palsy is the condition that occurs when a newborn suffers an injury to the brachial plexus, the nerves in the upper arm that control movement and feeling in the arms, hands, and fingers. Often, this occurs because of shoulder dystocia, an injury to the shoulder that can occur during a difficult birth.
Symptoms of Erb’s palsy include:
- Loss of function in the affected arm;
- Numbness in the affected arm;
- Partial or full paralysis of the arm; and
- An inability to grip using the hand of the affected arm.
Erb’s palsy can be treated with surgery or through physical therapy. In cases where it is caught and treated early, the child’s symptoms can clear up within a few months. In other cases, it can take a year or longer for the child to recover.
Work with an Experienced Chicago Birth Injury Lawyer
If your child suffers from cerebral palsy or Erb’s palsy as the result of a physician’s negligence, either a failure to warn you about the potential complications he or she could suffer or from rough handling during birth, you could be entitled to seek compensation for your damages through a medical malpractice claim. To learn more about pursuing a medical malpractice claim for a birth injury, speak with a member of our team of experienced birth injury lawyers at Baizer Kolar, P.C. Contact our firm today to schedule your free legal consultation in our office.