Erb’s palsy is a type of brachial plexus palsy. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves near the neck that branch out to the nerves in the arm. It is through this network of nerves that you are able to move your shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers. Palsy literally means weakness, and brachial plexus palsy basically leads to weakness in the arm and a loss in the ability to move or control the arm.
Roughly two out of every 1,000 babies suffers this condition, and it is often caused when a baby’s neck is stretched too far to one side or the other during delivery, either as a result of being forced into doing so by a doctor or another member of a delivery team, or as a result of birth complications.
If your child or that of a loved one suffers from Erb’s palsy, give us a call to learn more about the costs of care, how to determine whether or not medical malpractice or negligence contributed in some way to the diagnosis, how the condition will likely affect your child’s ability to learn and grow, and what your legal rights are with respect to seeking compensation from at-fault parties responsible for harming your child. Call now at (800) 222-9529.
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The Long-Term Outlook for Erb’s Palsy Diagnosis
Most children who suffer from brachial plexus recover both their movement as well as feeling in the arm that is affected by it over time, but recovery and rehabilitation often requires daily physical exercises and therapy.
The long-term prognosis for Erb’s palsy really depends on where and how the injury took place, as well as how severe or mild it is. In some cases, Erb’s palsy resolves on its own, and little or no treatment is required. In other cases, if the nerves in the upper brachial plexus sustain severe damage, the arm that is affected by this damage may suffer permanent weakness or partial or total paralysis.
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Can Erb’s Palsy Be Permanent?
The honest answer to this question is that every child, injury, and prognosis depends on a unique set of circumstances that are different from person to person. Some children, usually those who suffer mild Erb’s palsy, recover fully or partially from their ailment with physical therapy and non-surgical treatment, whilst others, usually those who suffered severe damage to their brachial plexus, may only recover partially, that too using invasive surgeries and months or even years of therapy and treatment. Even with surgery, results are not guaranteed, and it is entirely possible that a severe case of Erb’s palsy continues to linger and hamper the abilities and development of the child in question over the course of his or her life.
The best course of action to determine the extent of your child’s Erb’s palsy symptoms is to proactively discuss your child’s health with his or her doctor and to initiate recommended treatment methods as soon as possible so that your child’s nerves have the opportunity to develop and hopefully recover with the passage of time.
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Treating Erb’s Palsy
There are a number of treatment options available to help children afflicted with Erb’s palsy recover from their injuries. The key determinant of the treatment that will likely work is the severity of nerve damage sustained by the child. The best thing to do when trying to diagnose the severity of an Erb’s palsy case is to seek a referral and get the medical opinions of specialists or multidisciplinary teams who have the experience required to accurately assess the extent and severity of Erb’s palsy. Primary care doctors very often overestimate the chances of recovery, and this can lead to delays in receiving treatment, which in turn can exacerbate the effects of an injury.
Common treatments for Erb’s palsy include:
Physical therapy can be used to help heal and rebuild stretched or damaged nerves. Therapy can include a range of motion exercises, strength exercises, and sensory stimulation. This type of therapy works best when the family helps the child perform these exercises at home as a complement to the treatment given by the therapist.
This can help the patient learn specific skills or rebuild strength and coordination to perform precise motor actions.
Severe cases may require surgery, especially when a birth injury led to split or torn nerves. Surgical treatments include nerve grafts and nerve decompression procedures.
The recovery timeline for Erb’s palsy can be a few weeks to a lifetime of slow yet steady progress based on the type and location of the injury sustained.
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Disabilities Caused by Erb’s Palsy
If the damaged nerves of a child who suffered from Erb’s palsy completely heal, he or she can make a complete recovery. However, some children who suffer severe Erb’s palsy can grow up with their affected arm shorter or smaller than the unaffected one, and they may suffer other disabilities and issues as well, including:
- Weakness in one arm
- An inability to move their arm in a circular motion
- Limited range of motion in the affected arm
- Bone issues such as contractures in the affected arm
- Hypo or hyper-sensitivity in the affected arm
- Low fine-motor skills
- Pain and discomfort
What if My Child’s Erb’s Palsy Is Not Treated?
Failure to diagnose or treat your child’s Erb’s palsy can negatively impact your child for the rest of his or her life. It all depends on the nature and severity of the injuries in question, but research has found that serious injury to the nerves have little, almost no potential for recovery, unless surgical interventions are used.
If your child has been diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, we can help. We will investigate the causes of the injuries that led to the illness to determine who, if anyone, was responsible for medical negligence that caused the illness, and what, if anything, you may be entitled to in the form of compensation for pain, suffering, damages, lost income, and other expenses related to the treatment and/or rehabilitation of your child. To learn more, call us today at (800) 222-9529 to speak to an Erb’s palsy birth injury expert with the Birth Injury Lawyers Group.