A Primer on Erb's Palsy for the Lay Person
About 75% - 80% of Erb's Palsies are mild, and resolve by themselves over time, typically within a year. A disability that lasts over a year after birth is usually considered to be permanent.
Early recognition and intervention is the key to cure. If detected shortly after birth, prompt splinting and physical therapy can help. Delays in diagnosis and intervention decrease the likelihood of a good outcome, and may be malpractice separate from the traumatic birth.
In severe cases, there are some sophisticated neurosurgical and orthopedic surgical procedures that can sometimes repair or graft the injured nerves with nerve grafts, muscle translocation, and other techniques. These are complicated and costly, and results vary.
Because early recognition and intervention is the key to cure, delays in recognition or intevention may limit the opportunities for the best outcome. Delay diagnosis or intervention may be a malpractice event, even if the Erb's Palsy itself was not the result of malpractice.