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You should know about Erb’s Palsy Awareness Week

Chances are you don’t know about Erb’s palsy. (If you do, you should probably still read this article.) Here to change that and highlight why all expectant parents should be aware is Steven Hole, one of our very own customer service administrators. 

Erb's palsy is a birth injury that results in damage to an infant's brachial plexus – a system of nerves in the shoulder and upper arm. Each baby's injury is individual. The damage to each nerve can range from bruising to tearing, meaning some infants make a full recovery while others are paralysed for life.

The condition is usually caused by shoulder dystocia during an obstructed labour, whereby after the delivery of the head, the anterior shoulder of the infant cannot easily pass below the mother’s pubic bone. Shoulder dystocia occurs is 1 in 200 births (0.5%). And up to 1 in 10 babies born with shoulder dystocia have brachial plexus injuries.

Here’s Steve to tell you more...

What do you do at World First and how long have you been with the company?

I am customer service administrator. I take calls from customers running through travel insurance quotes over the phone and deal with any queries.

How did you originally get involved with World First? Why did you want to work here?

I really enjoy helping customers and giving the best customer service. I have worked within the financial sector before and really enjoyed the variation.

What’s your personal experience with Erb’s palsy? How has it affected you?

My youngest son Max was born in 2015. During labour he sustained a preventable birth injury. This has caused untold worry about how he will cope growing up as his injury is so severe that he cannot use his right arm.

Max had eight hours of surgery at four months old to try and salvage the nerves that had been avulsed (torn out) from the spinal cord.

How does Erb’s Palsy impact your daily life?

Max has to have physiotherapy several times a day, which can sometimes cause him and us as parents distress due to the pain he experiences. The condition also affects his balance as he has no support on the right side. As he grows up he will require a lot of alterations to cars, his home and so on to live independently.

Do you think Erb’s palsy is a misunderstood condition?

Less misunderstood, more unknown. I had never heard of Erb’s palsy before we had Max.

You are organising a bake sale in the World First office during Erb’s Palsy Awareness Week. Why do you want to help raise awareness of the condition?

I would like to raise awareness of this condition as this is a preventable birth injury as long as the right training is in place and the correct manoeuvres are used when there is a shoulder dystocia.

What could readers of the World First blog do to help?

Simply taking a few minutes to read up on what Erb’s is will help prevent this happening to other babies. They can also donate to the registered charity Erb’s Palsy Group or get involved with Erb’s Palsy Awareness Week, which takes place from Monday 26th June to 2nd July.

Erb’s palsy is a highly variable condition. What advice would you give to parents whose infants have been newly diagnosed?

There is support out there in the way of the Erb’s Palsy Group and on Facebook where other parents/“Erblings” are there to offer help and advice. More importantly if they suspect that there baby has Erb’s then they should see a specialist for assessment.

World First specialise in medical travel insurance. How would you describe the general level of medical knowledge among the customer service team?

We have a high standard of medical knowledge due to our day-to-day experiences dealing with varied amount of conditions and customers. We also have support from the medical underwriter who are trained nurses.

Finally, where’s your favourite place you have travelled to so far? And where do you intend to visit on holiday next?

I went to Kenya on our honeymoon and went on an amazing safari where we saw around 50 elephants at one watering hole. Next we are going on a family holiday to Menorca with my in-laws. We have booked a lovely villa with a private swimming pool. I have already purchased our travel insurance with World First who cover Erb’s palsy.

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