The treatment prescribed for a newborn with Erb’s palsy can vary based on the severity of their injury. In general, most children respond favorably to a conservative approach with supportive physical therapy performed daily at home with the help of a parent.
Babies with Erb’s palsy require close monitoring by a doctor or therapist to ensure the nerves are healing and more invasive treatment is not necessary. In some cases, surgery is necessary to help repair the nerves. Rarely, in the most severe cases, children never fully recover the sensation or movement lost because of their brachial plexus birth injury. Treatments are available for children with Erb’s Palsy which can often aid in their development and quality of life.
Conservative Treatment Is the Gold Standard in Most Erb’s Palsy Cases
Physical therapy (PT) or occupational therapy (OT) are very common treatments for newborns with Erb’s palsy. Doctors may also recommend a splint for the baby’s shoulder or arm. A therapist will provide this splint as well as explain how you should use it. Splinting may help support the affected joint and help the baby maintain range of motion until they regain movement and function.
As the parent, you play a key role in your child’s therapy. Your therapist will teach you how to perform exercises and massage techniques that will encourage movement, improve motor skills, and help your baby keep moving the affected arm. Daily physical therapy may continue for three to six months, or even longer.
Surgery for Erb’s Palsy
Occasionally, severe injuries to the brachial plexus require surgery to help the child regain function in the affected arm. This type of micro nerve surgery may not restore full function, but it can limit your child’s disability.
There are two types of microsurgery usually performed for Erb’s palsy. This includes:
- Nerve Grafting: In some cases, surgeons can take a donor nerve graft from another part of the child’s body and splice it into the damaged nerve, allowing the damaged nerve to communicate with the spinal cord and brain again.
- Nerve Transfer: A nerve transfer is similar to nerve grafting except the surgeon will remove a complete nerve from another muscle and use it to create a new nerve pathway between the spinal cord and the affected muscles in the upper arm.
The need for surgical repair is uncommon but does occur. When your child undergoes this type of procedure, it could take months or even years to heal fully. Nerves grow and heal slowly, so your child will need regular monitoring to ensure progress during this time.
Most Erb’s Palsy Brachial Plexus Injuries Heal Completely Over Time
Erb’s palsy occurs when the nerves that connect the baby’s upper arm to the spinal cord suffer damage, usually during a birth injury. The injury occurs where the baby’s fifth and sixth cranial nerves merge, forming the top of the brachial plexus.
A prompt diagnosis and proper treatment are key for getting the best outcome in an Erb’s palsy case. Often, neonates display symptoms of this condition, and attentive staff identifies signs in the baby’s first hours of life. Diagnosis, before the baby goes home, allows treatment to begin almost immediately. With early treatment, you may begin to see improvement in just a couple of weeks. The rate of complete recovery from Erb’s palsy is 80 to 96 percent, according to a study in Paediatric Child Health.
Erb’s Palsy Lawsuits
Erb’s palsy is often preventable. Doctors and other medical care providers can cause this type of birth injury in a number of ways. This includes:
- Failing to order a Cesarean section (C-section) when the baby is too large for the birth canal
- Failing to use forceps or a vacuum extraction device properly
- Using improper techniques during delivery, often tugging or twisting the child
- Failure to prevent predictable shoulder dystocia
- Attempting to deliver a breech baby vaginally without adequate training or experience
If a baby suffers Erb’s palsy because a doctor committed a medical error, caused a traumatic birth injury, or otherwise acted negligently, the parents may be eligible to pursue a medical malpractice case. This type of case could allow them to hold the doctor liable as well as recover a payout to cover their child’s medical care, therapy, pain and suffering, and other expenses. Treatments are available for children with Erb’s Palsy, and damages won in a birth injury lawsuit can help pay for these treatments.
Talk to an Erb’s Palsy Birth Injury Lawyer About Your Case Today
If your child requires treatment for Erb’s palsy, and you believe medical negligence is to blame, the Birth Injury Lawyers Group can help. Call 1-800-222-9529 today to connect you with a birth injury lawyer in your state who will review your birth injury case for free.