The difference in Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy

On Behalf of | Jul 20, 2015 | Birth Injuries

Any expectant mother hopes their newborn is born without defect or injury. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Two of the most common injuries in South Carolina are Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy. While these two injuries are similar, they do have their differences.

Both types of palsy are caused by damage to the brachial plexus. This is a bundle of nerves in the neck, near the shoulder. In the case of Erb’s palsy, the nerves that control and give sensation to the shoulder and upper arm are affected. When the lower plexus is affected, it can hinder the movement and sensation in the lower arm and hand, called Klumpke’s palsy. Sometimes these injuries happen at the same time, called a global palsy.

In both cases, there are four types of injury that could cause the palsy. The least severe is a neurapraxia. This happens when the nerve gets stretched, and infants generally recover in a few months. The next is a neuroma, in which the nerve gets stretched and leaves scarring. This scarring blocks communication between the nerves; some recovery usually occurs.

The next two types of injury are more severe. A rupture happens when a nerve is torn apart. Usually, a “donor” nerve can be transplanted from another part of the body to fix the issue. The final injury is an avulsion, in which the nerve is torn away from the spinal cord. Once again, a transplant may lead to recovery.

If your baby was born with a palsy, it may have been caused by a negligent doctor. A medical malpractice attorney may be able to evaluate your case and help you claim compensation. 

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