Getting Undressed with Erb’s Palsy

Because brachial plexus injury or Erb’s Palsy is fairly uncommon and information on long term recovery is difficult to find I want to continue to publicly chronicle Nick’s journey.

Our 2 year old son, Nicholas, was injured at birth.  His injury, brachial plexus palsy (BPI)or Erb’s palsy left his left arm paralyzed during the critical first months when infants develop the awareness and use of their arms.

Nick’s recovery has been amazing (“full recovery”) and I often forget that he was even injured and then something catches me by surprise and I realize that he still needs some extra help to continue to regain full use of his arm.

Nicholas - 2 years old

Pulling down their pants is a skill that our other children learned spontaneously, but not Nicholas.  Nick is unable to move his injured arm behind his back and because of this was not able to learn to pull down his pants without help. To help him we simply show him what to do and remind him to use his left arm. We also reinstated regular stretching to help him gain more flexibility so that he will be able to get that arm farther behind his back.

Our older children help us, help him by encouraging him to do as much as possible for himself. His natural reaction to the difficulty is to come ask someone else to pull down his pants for him. Rather than doing it for him, we have successfully  used verbal coaching to help him through the steps one by one. (Because he doesn’t have full range of motion, it takes a few steps for him to independently pull down his pants.)

So  just a reminder to those of you who have Brachial Plexus Injured kids; pay attention.  Even those who have a ‘full recovery’ might need extra help to learn simple skills as they grow and develop.

This post was written several months ago, Nicholas is now adept at pulling his pants down himself, his ability to move his arm behind his back has also improved. Our current focus is increasing the strength in his injured arm by encouraging him to use it more often.

More posts about our experience with brachial plexus injury or Erb’s Palsy.

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11 Responses to Getting Undressed with Erb’s Palsy
  1. Crystal & Co.
    February 22, 2011 | 8:20 am

    How awesome tht you are offering awareness!

    Your little Nick sure is cute. (I have a Nicky as well who just turned 5!)


  2. Cheryl @Treasures from a Shoebox
    February 22, 2011 | 9:24 am

    I read about this in your post on why you chose a c-section with the last baby. With my last two, both weighing over 11 lbs each and both home births, I experienced shoulder dystocia. I had no idea it could cause permanent damage to their limbs! Yikes! Definitely something to consider if the Lord blesses us again. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Maria
    February 22, 2011 | 12:38 pm

    My 8 y/o daughter has an extensive Erb’s injury. She prefers to wear “yoga” pants or fleece, etc. She does the pulling up one-handed. This, among many other things, is a struggle but she figures it out. (My response was interrupted by her neeeding assistance bending her fairy dolls…she can’t manage that one-handed).

    I’ve also chosen to chronicle Elaina’s accommodations in regards to homeschooling and other life skills. Though I’m a new blogger and my focus is homeschooling I’m trying to figure out a seperate page regarding her Erb’s. Mainly for the reason you stated; that I don’t know older children with Erb’s and I don’t know what the long-term compensations will need to be. Thought it might help someone googling
    Erb’s. That’s how I found your blog.

    Thank you for sharing.



    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I grieve that you have had experience with this injury. Thank you for helping to put information out there. Not being able to find information was one of my big frustrations after Nicholas was born.
    Thank you for letting me know about your blog and posts about Erb’s.


  4. Jamie
    February 24, 2011 | 3:29 pm

    awwww. yay Nick! Titus still has a hard time getting his pants off… and don’t get me started with pulling them ON! He has to slow down and really take his time to think it through. Right now we are working on getting his pants on. They always come up VERY twisted, then he has to untwist them. Ahhh… the little things in life. We haven’t even attempted pants with buttons and zippers yet. First we’re going to master the elastic! I love your Erb’s Palsy posts. It is so important for people to know about! It’s also nice seeing everything Nick is able to do. Good job, little man :).


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    THANK YOU Jamie, now I know why Nick’s pants are always twisted when he pulls them up himself.

    I’d love to see some pictures of Titus’ shoulder, hint, hint. 😉 Do you notice big strength differences between his arms? Have you done more to encourage him to use his injured arm more? Nick doesn’t want to use it on things like ‘boxing’, running, etc. even though he has the ability.


  5. Sara
    March 18, 2011 | 11:46 am

    I just wanted to let you know, I’m a 19 year old with Erb’s Palsy in my left arm :]
    It’s been very difficult, especially with kids at school, you know how kids are…
    Please feel free to contact me anytime!


  6. Shava
    May 8, 2012 | 3:15 pm

    My daughter is now 13 and suffered a bpi at birth to her left arm. She is “completely recovered” as well (with no surgery-yea!) However, as she has a growth spurt I notice it more and more (her left arm not being able to be straightened and the way she carries it). She is starting to notice it and her PE teachers are giving her exercises to do to help when they go into the weight room. This is something that never completely “goes away”. She plays all sports and lives an active life, and most people don’t notice her arm…however, as her mother it breaks my heart but I also realize how lucky she is. Thank you for keeping the word about BPI out there.


  7. Laura
    October 18, 2012 | 4:36 pm

    I’m a 43 year old with Erb’s Palsy on my right arm. Sadly because we did not have the technology and information we have now my arm did not improve as much as it could have. If you, or your children, have any questions please feel free to ask.


    babitha Reply:

    Hi…my 2 monty old baby is suffering from erbs palsy on right arm…she moves her fingers and wrist…grip is also good….but she is not able to lift and bend the arm…kindly plz tell is she will recover full…
    Plz send your mail id


  8. Hilary
    August 5, 2014 | 7:40 pm

    Could you please post your email, my niece has born with bpi. I need to know more about it and how to get full recovery, thank you so much


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