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What treatments are available for someone with Erb's palsy?

A California family dealing with a diagnosis of Erb's palsy may worry about the long-term effects of the condition on a child. The birth injury involves nerve damage suffered during the labor and delivery process, typically the result of an infant's neck being stretched. The severity of the condition may determine the prognosis, providing direction for early treatment and possible later surgeries.

In some cases, children recover without significant medical intervention. A doctor will use initial visits to follow a child's progress. A complete recovery may take as long as two years because nerves are slow to recover from damage. Physical therapy may be recommended for a child who is diagnosed with this birth injury to ensure that muscles are strengthened and that joints function properly. This form of physical activity may begin as early as three weeks after a child is born with Erb's palsy.

Surgery may be necessary in more serious cases. A repair may be made by grafting a nerve from another part of the body to fix a ruptured nerve. A nerve may also be replaced using a different nerve from another muscle of the same child. Such treatment can take months or years to facilitate full recovery, and physical activities may be recommended to promote muscle strength while maintaining an appropriate range of motion. Later surgeries may be possible, and it is important to understand that some children will still have weakness issues in an affected arm even after such intervention.

Although a parent may work to focus on positive actions that can be taken to help a child in recovering from or dealing with Erb's palsy, there may be a concern about the medical decisions prior to these issues. Legal action may be warranted if it can be demonstrated that negligence by medical professionals is to blame for a child's birth injury.

Source: Ortho Info, "Treatment", November 24, 2014

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