Treatments and Therapies for Brachial Plexus Injury or Erb’s Palsy

Brachial plexus palsy or Erb’s palsy is an injury that often occurs at birth when the nerves of the brachial plexus are damaged during a prolonged labor and difficult delivery. Your doctor and medical team have the responsibility to monitor and assess complications during the pregnancy and delivery. When this is not done properly, there is a heightened risk of injury. Brachial plexus injuries are often caused by medical mistakes, which can and should be avoided. One of the most common causes of Brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) is excessive pulling or stretching of an infant’s head and shoulders during a vaginal birth.

The severity of brachial plexus injury symptoms may vary depending on the amount of nerve damage sustained. Symptoms may range from mild weakness to complete paralysis of movement and loss of sensation in the arm. The potential for recovery typically depends on the number of nerves that have been affected and the level of damage sustained. The sad reality of brachial plexus injury is that children might never recover fully and face the possibility of living with permanent muscle weakness and loss of function.

What Treatment and Therapies Exist?

The treatment of brachial plexus injuries (Erb’s palsy) often depends on the nature and severity of the injuries. Here are some of the common treatments and therapies that are generally recommended for children who have sustained brachial plexus injuries:

Physical therapy: A physical therapist plays a critical role in the life of a child affected by a brachial plexus injury (Erb’s palsy). Physical therapy should ideally begin as soon as possible after diagnosis or surgery and before joint or muscle tightness has developed. A physical therapist will be able to help your child in many ways including identifying the muscles that have been affected as well as recommending exercises required to increase their flexibility and strength.

Your child’s therapist can also help reduce or prevent muscle or joint tightening or deformities and improve movement and function. Even if your child does not require surgery, physical therapy may be needed for a long time as the nerves begin to grow again. Each physical therapy treatment plan is designed to meet your child’s needs and should adopt a family-centered approach to care. Some therapies may include gentle stretching, massage, sensory stimulation, range of motion exercises to prevent muscle tightness and exercises to improve strength and function. Your child may also need specialized equipment such as splints, braces and flexible tape to assist with some of these exercises.

Recreational therapy: Your child’s needs may change as he or she continues to grow. Children should be encouraged to participate in normal recreation activities including those that involve shoulder and arm movements. Recreational therapists can also help children with a wide variety of activities such as climbing, crawling, throwing, finger painting, picking up and eating food and so on.

Occupational therapy: This is a form of therapy that is typically provided after surgery for those who have suffered permanent injuries or disabilities. An occupational therapist works closely with children who have suffered brachial plexus injuries and helps them with everyday tasks such as eating, playing, writing, tying shoes and so on. Occupational therapy is an important part of helping children cope with their disabilities after a brachial plexus injury.

Surgery: When the nerve damage is severe, children may require surgery. The purpose of surgery is to repair the damage and relieve pressure on the brachial plexus nerves to enable natural healing. Physicians will typically recommend surgery only if the injury is severe. In some cases, doctors may recommend physical therapy first and recommend surgery only if they do not see improvements. The two main types of surgeries for children with brachial plexus injuries are nerve decompression and nerve graft repairs.

Nerve decompression surgery is minimally invasive. Surgeons make a small incision into the skin and insert a specialized surgical instrument that decompresses affected nerves. With nerve grafts, nerves from a healthy sensory nerve are taken from another part of the body as grafting material to repair the damaged nerves. Once in place, the regenerating nerve fibers can grow and connect with muscles. This type of procedure can help recover muscle functions.

Contacting an Experienced Lawyer

If your child has brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy), he or she can receive compensation that may help pay for medical expenses, lost income, cost of therapy, future treatments, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc.
The experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.

One of our clients secured a $2,850,000 verdict that was reduced by the appeals court to $1,846,000 because the verdict was so large. This was the highest amount upheld by the appellate (appeals) courts for many, many years. In addition we recovered $1,400,000 for a newborn who lost motion in the arm during birth due to doctors applying incorrect force on the baby’s head. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.

We have seen many cases where New York City Health and Hospital Corporation facilities deliver babies who are born with cerebral palsy or Brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) stemming from negligence (carelessness), and/or medical malpractice in the labor and delivery etc. of the children.

The following list identifies some of these hospitals (operated by New York City Health and Hospital Corporation):

• Jacobi Hospital aka Bronx Municipal 1400 Pelham Parkway South Bronx, New York 10461 718-918-5000
• Lincoln Hospital 234 East 149th Street Bronx, New York 10451 718-579-5000
• North Central Bronx Hospital 3424 Kossuth Avenue Bronx, New York 10467 718-519-5000
• Coney Island Hospital 2601 Ocean Parkway Brooklyn, New York 11235 718-616-3000
• Kings County Hospital 451 Clarkson Avenue Brooklyn, New York 11203 718-245-3131
• Woodhull Hospital 760 Broadway Brooklyn, New York 11206 718-963-8000
• Bellevue Hospital 462 First Avenue New York, New York 10016 212-562-5555
• Harlem Hospital 506 Lenox Avenue New York, New York 10037 212-939-1000
• Metropolitan Hospital 1901 First Avenue New York, New York 10029 212-423-6262
• Elmhurst Hospital 79-01 Broadway Elmhurst, New York 11373 718-334-4000
• Queens Hospital Center 82-68 164th Street Jamaica, New York 11432 718-883-3000

Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and/or medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.

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1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES

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