Every October the Erb's Palsy Group raises awareness about Erb's Palsy through an awareness week. Through social media, events and fundraising they aim to increase peoples knowledge of Erb's Palsy, and provide information and support to those affected.
This year we look into some powerful case studies of those affected by Erb’s Palsy, how it has impacted both their own life as well as their families, and how their stories can help inform and support others.
Could you tell us about Erb’s Palsy and how it has impacted your life?
Alfie’s mum: Alfie hasn't got the full use of his right arm, he has right side Erb’s Palsy. He struggles to get his hands to his mouth which means he struggles to eat and do anything particular with his arm. In a way it’s like losing an arm. We say to people try tying your arm at your side, your dominant arm, and see what you can do when it's tied down the side. Alfie's life and our lives have been severely impacted by it.
Alfie: I've definitely had to adapt to a lot of things that most people could do by themselves. So just really simple things like getting dressed, cooking, cleaning, eating, everything, I’ve had to rely on one hand to do it. You find ways around it but it’s quite difficult.
Is there anything you have learnt about yourself through your journey?
Alfie’s mum: How strong Alfie is how. How he coped, and had contingencies for everything. He has such tenacity now. Nothing stopped him. So it's giving him a superpower to get on and to push through and, it doesn't stop him.
What or who has helped you through your journey?
Alfie’s mum: Definitely the Erb’s Palsy Group and that community. Without them we would have known nothing. Physiotherapists, occupational therapists, doctors. Doctor Mr Bainbridge at the Royal Hospital in Derby. Tozers. That group of people connected to the Erb’s Palsy Group have been the major people that have helped us through.
Alfie: Loving people around to help out and a really supportive circle around me so I can feel comfortable so I can tell them that I have this problem with my arm and I can’t do certain things. I think just explaining to people has been the most useful thing. Once I explained what exactly I could do with my arm and what I couldn't do, it made it a lot easier for other people to understand and be able to help me.
Is there any advice you would give to those with Erb’s Palsy and their families?
Alfie’s mum: Don't be too shocked by it. Your child will develop and will find new ways of doing things. It’s not the end of the world. The Erb’s Palsy Group is out there with such great information. Everything you want to ask, they will try and answer as quickly as possible and the Community support is out there. So if a Doctor tells you that your child has a complex injury, Erb’s Palsy, find the Erb’s Palsy Group and get all the information you can. Research as much as you can about it. Just to keep your own mind at rest. Being informed, education is an amazing thing.
Alfie: If there is any advice I could give about Erb’s Palsy it would definitely be to not be afraid to ask for help when you need it because I think I spent a long time trying to be as independent as possible and trying to just get by myself. There are people willing to help you, especially at university I spent maybe my first two years really trying to get by and not really being ambitious and limiting myself and what I could do, because I didn't want to ask someone to do it for me. I just wanted to be able to do everything myself. So I think definitely asking for help when you need it would be the biggest thing for me because it took me a long time to learn that and now I think I can do a lot more and I could be a lot more ambitious with what I do.
What does life look like now for you, and any future ambitions?
Alfie: At the minute I'm at university, I'm in my third year. What I really want to do when I'm older is to be either working in an art gallery as an exhibit office or as a curator, or basically anything to do with fine art in the art world I’m really interested in. I think right now because of my arm, especially in a subjects such as this, there are things you have to do to get a bit more help than normal. So for example, like carrying heavy picture frames or boards or anything like that, I can't really do. Hanging up stuff on the wall is quite hard.
Following taking on the claim, what support did you receive and what advice would you give to others thinking about bringing a legal claim?
Alfie: It was quite difficult because you have to make a lot of decisions about the rest of your life and things that are going to affect the rest of your life when you are very young, and you don't quite know what you want to do yet, which could be a really hard thing to think about. Any advice that I would give would be that it's not worth getting so worked up about and worried about because I think legal cases can take really long and you're always going to be waiting for someone to get back to you or assessments or something like that. So I think it is just trying to be as patient as possible and trusting in the people that helped me out. So solicitors and family members, just trying to just take it one step at time and don't get overwhelmed.
What difference has bringing a legal claim made to your life?
Alfie: The difference that this claim made to my life is that I definitely feel that I have the ability now and that it's possible to actually do things that I want to do and not feel that I've got to spend most of my life trying to get by on jobs that I'm not invested in or I don't need to worry about getting a job that I could have really struggled with. I think I have a lot more options now and a lot more opportunities.
To raise awareness of this condition and to support the Erb’s Palsy Group we are running a series of articles and videos sharing the stories of some of those impacted by Erb' Palsy, to raise awareness of this condition. To see all these case studies please visit our Erb's Palsy Awareness Week page.
We have over 25 years’ experience in bringing clinical negligence claims for compensation on behalf of Claimant’s with Erb’s Palsy. We have developed a wealth of knowledge in relation to this condition.