Types of Erb’s Palsy

Erb’s palsy is a condition caused by birth injury to the brachial plexus nerve. Babies with Erb’s palsy exhibit little or no movement in one arm as a result of the brachial plexus injury.

The type of Erb’s palsy that a child experiences depends upon the type of brachial plexus injury he or she suffered during delivery. There are four types of brachial plexus injuries:

Avulsion injuries
The most serious type of brachial plexus injury, avulsion injuries occur when the nerve is completely torn from the spinal cord because of birth trauma.

Children born with this type of Erb’s palsy will exhibit no motion in the affected arm. A muscular or neural transplant is the best Erb’s palsy treatment for this type of injury.

Rupture injuries
Like avulsion injuries, in rupture injuries the brachial plexus nerve is completely torn, but not at the spinal cord. Similarly, a muscular or neural transplant must be performed to repair this type of brachial plexus injury.

Neuroma injuries
Neuroma injuries occur as a result of scar tissue that forms on the brachial plexus after a birth injury. This type of Erb’s palsy injury must be repaired with surgery to remove the scar tissue from the brachial plexus. The child’s prognosis for recovery depends upon how much scar tissue needs to be taken from the brachial plexus.

Stretch injuries
Also known as neurapraxia, this is the most common type of brachial plexus injury. In stretch injuries, the brachial plexus nerve is damaged, but not torn. Most stretch injuries heal on their own within three to six months.

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