What is the Difference between the Birth Injuries Erb’s Palsy vs. Klumpke’s Palsy?

erb's palsy vs. Klumpke's palsy

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Seth Zachariah Murphy was born on the 6th June 2013 at a private hospital in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Due to the malpractice of the delivery doctor, Seth was pulled by his neck with such force he has a life long disability by the name Erb’s Palsy.

This is Seth’s story, as told by his mother, Justine Murphy.

“This is a birth injury, and not a birth defect. His arm is paralyzed and although he has has undergone a nerve graft surgery as to take nerves from his legs as to fix where his brachial plexus nerves were severed, this was done in order to give him the best possible chance of movement, and when it does his come over the next two years, it will be slow and limited.”

erb's palsy vs. klumpke's palsy

She continues in detail about her experience giving birth to Seth:

“The obstetrician… used to forceps as to (sic) take our boy out finally, but not so safely. The combination of using the vacuum twice and then forceps meant that he pulled with such strength he broke the nerves that make up the brachial plexus, meaning our son was left with a paralysed right arm upon delivery into my arms. Our medical report does state that there was a ‘loud snap’ when he was taken out, this could have been his nerves being snapped or it could have been his clavicle breaking. Either way, we were told nothing at all. Our son was given to me for a moment to hold in my arms and Paul observed he was very blue. They took him away for five minutes as to check him over and then he was brought back. At no stage were we told that anything was wrong with his arm.”

You can read more of this story at Erb’s Palsy: A Mother’s Story. Justine Murphy is going above and beyond for her baby. Just like you, she wants the best for her child.

nurse checking baby's symptoms

When it comes to what’s best for your child, it’s important to understand the nature of their injury. 

How did it happen? 

What causes the symptoms? 

What can be done? 

Many birth injuries are confusing for those who do not work in the medical field, so if you’re a little overwhelmed or confused by your child’s injury, don’t worry. You’re certainly not alone. 

The birth injury attorneys at Merson Law PLLC can help you better understand your child’s birth injury and can get you the financial compensation you need to pay for medical bills, physical therapy, lost wages, and more. Give our office a call at the number above, or fill out our contact form to get in touch with a birth injury attorney today. 

What does “palsy” mean?

A palsy is a full or partial paralysis and can come in many forms; two of those forms are Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy. Both Erb’s and Klumpke’s involve the brachial plexus, which is a network of nerves that begin at the spinal cord in the neck and control a person’s hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder. These nerves are fragile, especially in a newborn baby, so if there’s any sort of trauma during delivery they can get stretched and result in a birth injury.

What’s the Difference Between Erb’s Palsy vs. Klumpke’s Palsy?

Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy both affect the brachial plexus, the bundle of nerves in the shoulder that carries movement and sensory signals from the spinal cord to the arms and hands. Both Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy are caused by injury to these nerves.

The difference between the two comes into play when determining whether the upper or lower brachial plexus is injured. 

Erb’s palsy is the result of the upper brachial plexus being paralyzed (the C5 and C6 nerves), while Klumpke’s palsy results from paralysis of the lower brachial plexus (C8 and T1). 

The Different Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy vs. Klumpke’s Palsy

While both palsies are caused by similar injuries, the symptoms of the two conditions can be different depending on which your child has.

Erb’s palsy generally causes partial or full paralysis of the arm and often accompanied by loss of sensation.

Klumpke’s palsy causes paralysis of the forearm and hand muscles, since the injury is lower on the brachial plexus and the nerves here control lower parts of the arm.

The difference between symptoms of Erb’s palsy vs Klumpke’s palsy can be hard to spot, especially in the case of mild or moderate injury.

Both Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy can range in severity. Some injuries are temporary while others are permanent. Either way, it’s unfair for your child to have to deal with a preventable disability that may have been caused by a doctor’s negligence. 

If you live in New York and you suspect your baby’s birth injury could have been prevented or handled differently, contact the birth injury attorneys at Merson Law PLLC today for a free initial consultation by calling the number at the top of your screen or by filling out our contact form.

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