One in every thousand babies is affected by Erb’s palsy, also known as Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy. It’s a condition which affects nerves in the neck and can cause arm weakness and loss of motion.
The condition is often the result of a difficult delivery but it is also caused by neck trauma in the first few months of life.
If you haven’t heard of the condition before, don’t worry – keep reading for five important facts.
1. A Difficult Delivery Can Cause The Condition
During delivery, babies are pushed and pulled in a variety of ways. This can lead to stretching of the neck which may damage nerves and lead to Erb’s palsy.
The risk is higher in smaller women as the birth canal tends to be smaller, making delivery more complicated. Additionally, if a baby is breech, then the arms will need to be pulled up over the head during delivery, which greatly increases the risk of birth injuries.
While it’s most commonly caused by issues during delivery, any trauma to the neck can trigger Erb’s palsy in infants.
2. Measures Can Be Taken to Reduce The Risk Before Giving Birth
In many cases, the issues that lead to a difficult delivery can be identified and accounted for before you give birth.
For example, if your baby is breech then you might opt for a planned C-section. The same is true if your baby is much larger than the birth canal.
It’s really important to express any concerns you have about giving birth ahead of time so that you and your doctor can discuss alternative treatment plans.
3. The Severity of The Condition Can Vary
Some babies will recover quickly from Erb’s palsy while others are left with symptoms for the rest of their lives.
Starting treatment as soon as possible reduces the risk that your child will be affected by the condition long-term. You might see specialists including neurosurgeons, physical therapists, and orthopedic surgeons.
Every child is different, and treatment can range from basic physical therapy to surgery.
4. Most Infants Recover With Physical Therapy
The majority of infants recover after a few months of physical therapy and other mild interventions, like massage. Therapy is often carried out during sessions and at home by the parents.
Massage can help stimulate blood flow and improve movement, and Botox injections are sometimes used to increase stimulation in the arm.
5. Surgery Might Be Necessary In Some Cases
For serious cases of Erb’s palsy, your child might need surgery. This is carried out during the first six months of life and is most common in the case of a rupture or avulsion, where the nerve is torn rather than stretched.
Microsurgery is performed on the shoulder in an attempt to repair the nerve and restore function to the arm.
Hiring an experienced Erb’s Palsy lawyer can help you to cover the cost of treatment for your child.
Why Is Knowing About Erb’s Palsy Important?
Birth injuries can sometimes be avoided by careful planning ahead of delivery.
However, that’s not always possible, so knowing the implications and treatments options for conditions like Erb’s palsy will help you to make the best choices for your child.
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