Erb’s Palsy

What is Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s Palsy, also known as brachial plexus paralysis, is a condition involving damage to the nerves that supply the arm in a baby.

What causes Erb’s Palsy?

Erbs PalsyDamage to the nerves usually occurs as a result of trauma sustained during a difficult delivery and childbirth. The severity of symptoms may vary according to the amount of nerve damage sustained ranging from mild weakness to complete paralysis of movement, and loss of sensation in the arm. Potential for recovery will be dependent on the number of nerves affected and the level of damage sustained. Some children may recover fully, whereas others may be left with permanent muscle weakness and loss of function.

What Therapies for Kids can do

The presentation of Erb’s palsy will be individual to each child. Before treatment begins a thorough assessment of the child’s range of movement, muscle strength, sensation and ability to perform age appropriate functional and play activities will be required to establish an appropriate treatment regimen. Physiotherapy activities used in treatment may include:

  • Activities and exercises to promote recovery of movement and muscle strength
  • Exercises to maintain range of movement in the joints to prevent stiffness and pain
  • Exercises to promote increased awareness of the arm
  • Provision of splints to prevent secondary complications and maximise function
  • Advising parents on appropriate handling and positioning of the child and home exercises to maximise the child’s potential for recovery
  • To provide physiotherapy in a way that can be incorporated in play and be fun for your child.

Occupational Therapy activities may include:

  • To provide Occupational Therapy in a way that can be incorporated in play and be fun for your child at therapy and at home
  • Advice on and practice of your child performing age appropriate self care activities including self feeding and dressing
  • Provide treatment, strategies, advice of equipment that will assist your child to maximise their independence and use of their effected arm during everyday activities including bilateral activities.

Benefits of Physiotherapy for Erb’s Palsy

  • Improved muscle strength and range of movement
  • Improved functional use of the arm
  • Improved independence
  • Reduced risk of secondary joint stiffness
  • Improved quality of life and independence

What you can do

Daily performance of the activities demonstrated by your Paediatric Physiotherapist & Occupational Therapist is the main form of treatment. As your baby or child may have difficulty moving their arm on their own it is important to maintain the range of motion in the shoulder, elbow, wrist and fingers. It is important to do the exercises demonstrated by your therapist as often as possible during the day.

Exercises taught should be incorporated into your daily routine and play periods.