Erb’s Palsy is a disability of the arm, shoulder and hand which arises through nerve damage usually at birth.
It has a financial cost to the individual and their family and an economic cost to society.
As an individual with Erb’s palsy the impact will differ to a greater or lesser degree, but the financial cost of the disability to the individual and their family can include:
- Travel and parking expenses
- Private medical treatment/therapy
- Lost Earnings
- Aids & Equipment
- Assistance with childcare, home maintenance, domestic chores
To society the financial cost of Erb’s Palsy can include:
- NHS Treatment
- State benefits
- Legal costs of litigation
Meet Tom aged 17
Tom has a grade III brachial plexus injury to his left side at birth affecting C5,6,7,8 of the brachial plexus. His arm is shorter and narrower, and the movement range of his left arm is limited and so he uses compensatory movements but this triggers pain and discomfort. Overuse, or repetitive activity also causes pain and Tom has difficulty sleeping. Unsurprisingly Tom experiences frustration and has a low level of self-confidence.
Tom had good specialist NHS treatment in the early years. His parents had to take time out to drive him to appointments at a specialist centre and to care for him following surgery. As he got older, due to limited resources important therapy and equipment was simply not available on the NHS so Tom’s parents funded what he needed themselves, including
- Physiotherapy and massage – which has helped with the stiffness, flexibility and pain and maintains existing range of movement
- Aids and Equipment – to help with issues of posture
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – to support Tom with issues of self-confidence. There was concern that without treatment his mental health might deteriorate further and so it was increasingly important to harness this at an early stage.
Tom will eventually leave home and probably will have a family of his own. When Tom has his own house he will struggle with the everyday tasks that his parents currently take care of. Such as household chores like peeling and chopping vegetables, laundry, taking out the rubbish. Doing DIY/decorating, cleaning windows and doing the gardening.
Whilst he may be able to do some tasks – it will take significantly longer or may be too physically demanding or cause him pain.
So that he can manage to work full time he will need to pay for a cleaner or a laundry service, buy specialist equipment and pay for additional services such as chiropody and grocery deliveries.
He will need an automatic car and adaptations in order to drive without relying upon his left arm.
Tom’s career choices are more limited and over his lifetime. Although he hopes to go into more professional type work he will be limited even in this by the pain he experiences when using a computer and carrying a bag and it will be important that he has a suitable care package in place.
Research demonstrates that there is a pay gap between the disabled and non-disabled. Unfortunately despite anti-discrimination legislation in the workplace – having a disability can place you in a vulnerable position in employment. In general terms rates of unemployment are higher for those with disabilities. Tom might have to retire earlier than normal due to degenerative change.
Tom’s parents brought a legal claim for compensation on his behalf and the hospital where he was born admitted that his brachial plexus injury was caused by the negligence and should not have occurred. The damages which Tom has been awarded is to compensate him for the physical, psychological, and financial cost which he has and will continue to suffer, to support and enable him to enjoy an independent and normal life.
How can I get help?
Please visit our website here for more information on Erb's Palsy.
Click here to see a video on 'Erb's Palsy: Better Care Costs Less' by PROMPT Maternity Foundation.
For support with the condition please contact the Erb’s Palsy Group at here.