An overview of Erb's palsy-part II

Previously, we discussed the types of injuries that could result in the birth injury known as Erb's palsy. Today, we are going to discuss how this birth injury is treated.

Sometimes it is possible to treat Erb's palsy with physical therapy. Different types of exercises that affect the range the infant is able to move the arm can be undertaken once the infant is three weeks of age. Physical therapy may in some cases prevent joint contracture, which is a permanent condition in which the affected joint stiffens.

Unfortunately, sometimes surgery is necessary to treat Erb's palsy. One type of procedure is microsurgery. Doctors may perform a nerve graft, in which a donor nerve is spliced onto the ruptured nerve. Doctors may also perform a nerve transfer using a nerve donated from a different muscle in the infant's body.

Surgery and physical therapy may allow the infant to regain the ability to use his or her arm, but this restoration is not necessarily complete. In some cases, an infant will never regain full function in the affected body part. When this happens, ongoing rehabilitation may be of use in helping the child as he or she grows.

It goes without saying that physical therapy, surgery and rehabilitation are often prohibitively expensive. Even if a person in California has health insurance, insurance does not necessarily cover every aspect of treatment nor does it address the victim's pain and suffering. And if a family is without insurance, the medical expenses can be absolutely staggering. If the injury was cased due to the negligence of a medical professional, parents may need to take legal action in order to pursue adequate compensation. By holding the responsible parties accountable for their medical malpractice, parents can seek the financial resources they need to help their child.

Source: OrthoInfo, "Erb's Palsy (Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy), accessed March 1, 2015

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