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Erbs Palsy / OBPI (Obstetric Brachial Plexus Injury)

Erbs Palsy / OBPI occurs as a result of trauma in the last phase of delivery.

Erbs Palsy / OBPI occurs as a result of trauma in the last phase of delivery. It occurs during difficult births when there is traction of the baby’s head away from the shoulder during delivery. This results in injury to the brachial plexus. Erbs Palsy is easily detected in the new-born infant when the baby is unable to actively move the arm. Once detected a full medical examination from a paediatrician is essential to ensure a correct diagnosis.

Erbs Palsy: Physiotherapy

  • If an Erbs Palsy is detected you should be referred directly to physiotherapy for management of this injury.
  • Since your baby is unable to actively move the affected arm Physiotherapy aims to maintain the passive range of movement to all of the joints whilst allowing recovery of the Brachial Plexus. This is done by appropriate positioning and handling.
  • Regular Physiotherapy assessment and review is essential to monitor changes and initiate referral to a specialist centre if required.

Erbs Palsy: Physiotherapy

Positioning and handling of child
Initiate passive exercises
Maintain soft tissue length
Sensory stimulation
Educate parents on frequency of passive exercises
Encourage functional use of affected upper limb when age appropriate
Encourage weight-bearing through the affected upper-limb

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