In many cases, the symptoms of Erb’s palsy go away completely or almost completely without medical intervention. Your child’s doctor will likely prescribe physical therapy to ensure your baby heals without losing their range of motion or experiencing significant muscle wasting in the affected shoulder and upper arm.
In other cases, however, the damaged nerves do not heal well on their own. This injury will either lead to lasting disability or require surgery to try to graft or repair the nerve. Surgery can help the child recover some sensation and movement in the arm, but it is not a fix to return normal function and sensation for the child.
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Erb’s Palsy Nerve Damage May Heal on Its Own
Most newborns who suffer any type of brachial plexus birth injury recover fully or almost fully without the need for surgery or other intervention. While your doctor will closely monitor your child for signs of recovery for the first few months and re-examine them regularly afterward, it could be the child’s second birthday before you know for sure how completely they will recover. Damaged nerves heal slowly.
Can Erb’s Palsy Be Fixed with Physical Therapy?
The primary treatment for Erb’s palsy, by far the most common option to help newborns with this type of nerve damage, is daily physical therapy exercises performed at home with a parent’s help. These exercises generally begin around the time the baby is three weeks old and helps to maintain strength and range of motion until the nerves heal.
If your child requires this type of physical therapy, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist who can teach you how to help your baby move their arm and shoulder to keep the muscles and joints limber and in good condition.
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Some Babies with Erb’s Palsy Require More Invasive Treatment
If your doctor does not note a marked improvement in your child’s ability to move the affected shoulder and arm over the first 12 to 24 weeks, they may discuss the possibility of surgical repair with you. While nerve surgery does not generally restore normal functioning to the affected shoulder and upper arm, it can greatly improve the outcome for children who have no motor control over their shoulder or upper arm.
Nerve repair surgery is a type of microsurgery, requiring specially trained surgeons to use microscopes and tiny instruments to repair the damaged nerves. This surgery may include:
- Grafting or splicing another nerve into the area damaged by the initial injury
- Transferring a nerve from another muscle elsewhere in the child’s body into the spot where the damaged nerve would normally be, allowing some nerve signals to reach the shoulder and arm
Children who undergo either of these surgical repairs will likely need several months to years to heal completely and will give parents and doctors a good understanding of the level of functioning they will obtain. They may also require rehabilitation exercises, physical therapy, and occupational therapy as they recover and also following their recovery.
A Medical Malpractice Claim Could Pay for Your Child’s Erb’s Palsy Treatment
In many cases, Erb’s palsy is preventable. It occurs during delivery, either because a doctor or other medical care professional failed to prevent it, or caused it by using an improper technique to help deliver the baby. If your child required treatment or therapy for their Erb’s palsy, you may have grounds to pursue a birth injury medical malpractice claim or lawsuit.
To learn if you have a strong enough case to hold the doctor or hospital liable, you should contact an attorney who handles medical malpractice and birth injury cases. Free case consultation with a lawyer who understands how these cases proceed is the best way to determine your options.
If your attorney believes you have grounds to hold the doctor or hospital liable, they will:
- Explain your rights
- Help you understand the laws about pursuing this type of recovery in your state
- Collect evidence and help you build your case
- Represent you and your child’s best interests throughout this process
- Explain the statute of limitations and other laws that limit how long you have to take legal action based on your state’s law
Filing a birth injury claim or lawsuit may allow your family to recover damages that include medical care costs, therapy and rehabilitation, ongoing care costs, out-of-pocket expenses, and pain and suffering damages.
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Talk to a Birth Injury Attorney About Your Case Today
At Birth Injury Lawyers Group, our team can connect you with a lawyer who handles Erb’s palsy cases. We can help you schedule your free case evaluation and explain what you can expect when you talk with your lawyer.
Call (800) 222-9529 now to get started.