Erb's Palsy


For the last two seasons, NFL has collaborated with the players to develop and promote My Cause, My Cleats initiative during week 13 of the season. The goal is to allow athletes to express and promote causes that are personal to them. This year Adrian Clayborn, defensive end for the New England Patriots, shared his story and struggle with Erb-Duchenne (Erb’s palsy) palsy, a form of brachial plexus injury sustained during birth.

Erb’s palsy occurs during the birth process, when the baby’s head and neck are stretched to one side in order to allow the shoulders to pass through the birth canal. During the forceful delivery, the baby’s network of nerves near the neck that are responsible for all the nerves of the arms, including movement and feelings to the shoulder, arm, hands, and fingers, are damaged. As a result the baby may develop significant issues such as:

  • Weakness in one arm
  • Holding one arm against the body with a bent elbow
  • Lack of, or decreased grip strength in affected hand
  • Numbness in the arm or hand
  • Impaired muscular, circulatory, or nervous development
  • Pain in affected arm (partial or total)
  • Pain on affected side

However, like all injuries, this is completely avoidable and is often associated with negligence on part of the medical staff. A qualified Obstetrician should understand and be aware of the risk factors, which may cause complications during the birth process, such as:

  • Excessive maternal weight gain during pregnancy
  • Large infant size
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Prolonged second stage of labor
  • History of difficult births or Erb’s palsy
  • Small mother

Actively being aware and recognizing these risk factors, a qualified Obstetrician should recommend a cesarean section (C-section) instead of vaginal delivery to avoid the potential birth trauma. If medical staff fails to recognize these risks and/or recommend the mother undergo a C-section may be held liable for medical malpractice.

If your baby is exhibiting one of the symptoms associated with Erb’s palsy, or if you experienced problems during delivery or shortly before or after birth, please call us. Our medical malpractice attorneys and medical staff are available to speak with you 24/7.

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