Erb’s Palsy and other brachial plexus birth injuries generally respond well to treatment. Many children can recover most or all of the lost sensation and motor control through conservative treatment, although surgery is sometimes necessary.
Some children continue to battle ongoing weakness and other effects of the palsy even after they regain the use of their shoulder and upper arm. In addition, complications are possible and may require surgery or other treatment later.
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Conservative Treatment of Erb’s Palsy
Doctors generally diagnose Erb’s palsy shortly after birth or within the first few days of a child’s life. Conservative treatment is generally prescribed and includes daily physical therapy exercises beginning around three weeks of age.
Because the baby cannot move the shoulder and arm and does not have the cognitive ability to follow instructions if they could, parents play a crucial role in this physical therapy. Physical therapy will not help repair the nerves, but it will keep muscles strong and joints loose while the body heals on its own.
If your baby just received an Erb’s palsy diagnosis, you can expect their doctor or a physical therapist to help you understand how to do the required exercises. By doing these exercises as prescribed, your child should retain muscle mass and range of motion in the affected shoulder. Without physical therapy, your baby also runs the risk of complications that include shoulder dislocation and joint contracture.
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Surgical Treatments of Erb’s Palsy
In some cases, brachial plexus nerve damage is too severe to heal on its own or there is scar tissue causing additional concerns. It could take three to six months for your child’s nerves to begin to heal. Their doctor should monitor their progress during this time. If there is little to no improvement, additional treatment may be necessary.
The doctor will likely order additional tests to understand the injury better and to help determine the best type of surgery. The most common options include:
Microsurgery is helpful to remove scar tissue or manage other concerns related to Erb’s palsy when the nerve is allowing signals to pass. This type of surgery uses microscopes and tiny instruments to perform precise work on the nerve, nerve roots, and other structures.
In some cases, surgeons can splice together the damaged nerve with a nearby undamaged nerve, allowing nerve signals to pass through a previously ruptured pathway.
If nerve grafting is not a good option, your child’s doctor may recommend a nerve transfer. This procedure harvests a nerve from another muscle somewhere else in the body and transfers it to the spot currently occupied by the damaged nerve. This may restore some movement and function to the affected arm.
Nerves heal slowly, so it could take months or up to a year or more for your child to recover as fully as they will from Erb’s palsy. Even after surgery, it may take several months before you know if it was successful. During this time, your child will need to complete additional physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises several times a day.
Your Child’s Erb’s Palsy May Support a Medical Malpractice Birth Injury Case
While there are treatments available for Erb’s palsy, many children will continue to struggle with weakness or complications throughout their lives. If this happened to your child, you may have a viable medical malpractice birth injury case against the doctor who delivered your child or the hospital where they were born.
Many cases of Erb’s palsy are preventable and occur because of a medical professional’s negligence. Tugging too hard on the baby during delivery, putting inappropriate force on the baby’s neck, or failing to call for a c-section when necessary are all possible causes of brachial plexus injury.
To learn about the strength of your case, you should schedule a free case review with a medical malpractice birth injury attorney. They can not only evaluate your case but also help you collect evidence and prove your damages, as well as explain the time limits that apply to your case based on your state’s laws.
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Talk to a Birth Injury Lawyer Near You About Your Case Today
If your child underwent treatment or has lasting damage from Erb’s palsy, you may have a viable medical malpractice birth injury case. It would be best to discuss your situation with an attorney who regularly handles such cases in your state.
Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 222-9529 to schedule a free consultation to get started on your case today.