Erb’s Palsy is a condition that affects the nerves in the shoulder and upper arm. It often stems from complications during childbirth. The primary cause is traction or damage to the brachial plexus, a network of nerves that control the muscles in the arm.
This can occur when there is excessive pulling or stretching of the baby’s head and neck during delivery, leading to nerve injury. Shoulder dystocia, where the baby’s head makes it through the birth canal but the shoulders do not, may, too, contribute to the development of Erb’s Palsy.
Understanding the potential long-term effects of Erb’s Palsy
The potential long-term effects of Erb’s Palsy can influence many aspects of the affected individual’s life. Impairment of motor function in the affected arm is a common consequence, leading to weakness or paralysis. This limitation in mobility can impact the ability to perform daily activities. It can also hinder independence. Over time, those with Erb’s Palsy may experience challenges in tasks that use both arms, such as dressing, eating and grooming.
Erb’s Palsy can also pose challenges when it comes to developmental milestones. Children with this condition may experience delays in reaching certain motor skills. For example, they may struggle with crawling, grasping and reaching. The asymmetry caused by the weakened arm may also influence posture and balance. Individuals with Erb’s Palsy may also encounter difficulties in social situations. This is particularly likely during activities that involve physical coordination and interaction.
Mitigating the long-term effects of Erb’s Palsy
Early intervention and therapeutic measures help mitigate the impact of Erb’s Palsy. Physical therapy, occupational therapy and other rehabilitative techniques often help improve motor function and quality of life. In some cases, surgical interventions may help repair damaged nerves or improve joint stability.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons notes that Erb’s Palsy affects one or two of about every 1,000 babies born in the United States. A multidisciplinary approach involving physical therapists, occupational therapists and orthopedic specialists is often necessary to provide care and support for those affected by Erb’s Palsy.