Our compassionate team at Shriners Children's offers trusted treatment with promising outcomes for newborns with conditions like Erb's palsy.
Erb’s palsy, or brachial plexus palsy, is most often the result of a difficult delivery when the infant's neck is stretched during the birthing process. The resulting damage to the brachial plexus, a network of nerves near the neck, causes arm weakness and loss of motion, and possibly paralysis to the shoulder, arm, hands and fingers. Prompt medical attention is very important. For 70 to 80 percent of children, the condition will resolve within the first year of life if care begins within four weeks of birth. Our occupational therapists are instrumental in an Erb's palsy treatment plan and work to include parents in their child's rehabilitation journey. Treatments and services may vary by location.
- Range-of-motion occupational therapy on a daily basis may promote healing and stop the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder from stiffening.
- An orthotic may helpful to promote joint development or increase range of motion. When recommended, our POPS team will create a custom fit piece for your child.
If improvement with therapy is not seen in the first three to six months, surgery may be recommended. There are typically two types of surgery to address Erb's palsy:
- Nerve graft: Some nerve ruptures can be repaired by splicing a "donor" nerve graft from a separate nerve.
- Nerve transfer: In some cases, a surgeon can transfer a nerve from a different muscle to restore function in the nerve.
Occupational therapy is also an important part of the process following surgery. Because nerves recover very slowly, it may take months to years for nerves repaired at the neck to reach the muscles of the lower arm and hand.
Our occupational therapists, who specialize in the rehabilitation of shoulders, arms and hands, are uniquely qualified to provide a specific care plan for each child in order to achieve the best results.