Erb’s Palsy

What is Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s Palsy, also called brachial palsy or brachial plexus palsy, is an injury that causes weakness or paralysis of the arm, hand and/or shoulder. This medical condition, which most commonly occurs during childbirth, is caused by an injury to the bundle of nerves near the shoulder, called the brachial plexus. This type of birth injury is typically seen when there are birth complications and the delivery of the child is difficult. In some deliveries, an infant’s shoulders can become trapped during the birthing process (this is known as shoulder dystocia). When the baby’s head is pulled and stretched too far away from the shoulder, the brachial plexus may become damaged affecting the baby’s ability to move his or her shoulder, arm and/or hand.

In some situations, the baby’s paralysis or weakness will resolve on its own within a few weeks or months. In other instances, the injury to the child will be far more serious, requiring extensive physical therapy and the possibility of one or more surgical procedures to repair the damaged nerves. Unfortunately, not all children will fully recover from a brachial plexus birth injury. Some children may continue to suffer a loss of use of the arm, hand or shoulder throughout the entire course of their lives.

The costs associated with treating a child’s Erb’s Palsy condition can be overwhelming for a family. Furthermore, this type of injury can place a tremendous emotional toll on both the injured child and his or her parents. An Erb’s Palsy recovery depends upon the location and severity of the nerve damage and it can be very difficult to predict when, or if, the child will regain full movement of the arm, hand and/or shoulder.

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