9 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Erb’s PalsyPosted:
Being pregnant should be one of the happiest times in a couple’s life. Most of the time it is.
But sometimes the birth and delivery aren’t always what’s expected. Sometimes parents find out before their babies are born that they have a condition that won’t go away the way the stomach flu or ear infection will.
Sometimes they don’t find out until delivery there is suddenly a problem where there wasn’t before.
Erb’s Palsy is an example.
This condition is one where it typically clears up over time and is usually a mild case, to begin with. But, as with every child, every condition is different.
It affects around one in a thousand babies each year. Learning about the condition as a caregiver or parent can make all the difference.
Read on to find out 8 thing’s you need to know as the parent of a child with Erb’s palsy.
1. What Is Erb’s Palsy
The nerves in our bodies control all of our muscles. The nerves in our neck that control our arms are related to Erb’s palsy.
It can force the muscles toward the body naturally, which affects mobility. On top of our neck, we are all born with certain nerves meant to provide flexibility and support to our arms. Erb’s palsy is when those same nerves are cut off from the main trunk of nerves.
There are different kinds of Erb’s palsy which mean there are different treatments for each. Let’s go over those.
2. What Causes Erb’s Palsy?
While there is more than once cause, there is a definite common reason that sticks out.
It’s from a birth injury caused by too much stretching and pulling of the babies head and shoulders during birth. This can happen from the head pulling to the side at the same exact time the shoulders pass through the birth canal, or it can happen if a baby is delivered feet first and the physician pulls harder.
3. Educate Yourself on Your Child’s Erb’s Palsy
The nerves in our body are complex and with that comes different issues stemming from the same condition. Most importantly, different symptoms and treatments depending on the severity your child is diagnosed with and any possible causes.
Brachial Plexus Palsy is located under the arm near the shoulder. Those particular nerves carry signals from the spinal cord to the hands, fingers, and arms.
If that bundle of nerves in the upper part are damaged, it’s also referred to as Erb-Duchenne palsy.
There are different types of Erb’s Palsy:
- Neuropraxia- the most common type with no tearing
- Neuroma- a more serious type where nerve fibers may become damaged
- Rupture- this occurs when a nerve is torn and requires surgery
- Avulsions- The most severe when a nerve is torn from the spinal cord
A fast diagnosis and careful monitoring by the physician is crucial if your baby is born with any of the symptoms. No matter if you’re a first-time parent or you’ve had 4, you must always be your child’s advocate in getting a correct diagnosis.
If you think your child’s Erb’s palsy could have been prevented you can contact this lawyer to get more information and learn more about the role physicians play in this particular condition.
3. Are There Any Risk Factors to Know Beforehand?
There are risk factors for Erb’s Palsy are going to happen during the birthing process. There are several things to watch out for and to speak up about. Here are a couple of factors that raise the risk:
- Extraction tools used during delivery
- The second stage of labor exceeding an hour
- An infant that is large
- Sometimes maternal weight gain can be a factor
- Breech position or being born feet first
- If the mother is very small
In short, there is nothing you can do to prevent Erb’s palsy except educate yourself and be prepared if your doctor whips out the forceps. It’s okay to ask questions and to ask if there is anything else you can try first.
5. What Are the Symptoms?
The symptoms of Erb’s Palsy should be noticed right away by your physician and nursing staff after delivery.
It’s usually noticed when one of the babies arms are very weak. Sometimes the baby cannot move the arm that was affected. There are different severities of Erb’s palsy. Here are more symptoms to keep an out for:
- Limp arm but with a bent elbow
- Not able to grip with the hand that is affected
- Impairment to the nervous and muscular development
- Paralysis of entire arm and hand
It’s best to stay informed and to watch your baby closely. You know him/her best and have to be the voice that your baby has not developed yet.
6. How Is It diagnosed?
Usually, it’s present at birth when the babies arm goes limp or seems stiff. It takes the careful examination by a specialist to determine exactly which nerves were damaged.
Diagnosis is much of a physical examination looking for any symptoms mentioned above. Any limpness or limited mobility of an arm on one side would be cause for concern.
If the physical symptoms are present the doctor can then do an EMG to test the muscle fibers and nerves as well as an MRI or CT scan to confirm the diagnosis.
7. What Does Treatment Look Like?
The biggest treatment in Erb’s palsy if it’s mild, is physical therapy. And, as you implement physical therapy into your new babies life you also need to implement the watch and wait kind of lifestyle into yours.
Immediate surgery is not the road to go down, so it’s important to pay close attention to any improvement or any setbacks you notice.
It’s also important to implement things such as massaging your baby’s arm at home and continue physical therapy. Staying involved with your babies treatment plan will lead to the best outcome.
If it’s more severe surgery is recommended within the first three to six months of birth.
There have been studies to suggest holding surgery off until the baby is older will cut the chances of a successful operation. That has to be determined between you and your babies doctor depending on the severity of the Erb’s Palsy.
8. Coping and Prognosis
It’s important every parent takes care of themselves no matter what. It’s especially important when they are dealing with a brand new baby with health issues. Reach out to other parents who have children with Erb’s Palsy.
If it’s mild the prognosis is good. Most babies with Erb’s palsy from birth injuries clear up within a year as long as a treatment plan is followed starting as soon as they confirm the diagnosis.
Sometimes, if severe enough it can cause problems that last a lifetime if a permanent loss of the arm occurs. And, with something like that there will also be psychological healing you will need to be prepared for as well.
Continue to Educate Yourself As Parents
The more you read up on Erb’s palsy the more you will know. And, the more you know the chances of being a successful caregiver to your child increase.
It’s hard to be a parent of a child completely healthy, let alone with any kind of restriction like Erb’s palsy.
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