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Written on 6th November 2019 by Sita Soni

Erb’s palsy following brachial plexus injury at birth can cause lifelong disability, restricting day-to-day activities in a way that is both challenging and frustrating. At Boyes Turner, we are often able to help our clients with Erb’s palsy access assistive technology solutions which help them manage their daily activities more independently and with a little more ease.

What is assistive technology?

The term assistive technology covers “products, equipment, and systems that enhance learning, working, and daily living for persons with disabilities”, as defined by the Assistive Technology Industry Association.

It covers a range of technologies, such as computers, environmental controls which, for example, allow users to use window openers or household appliances which can be controlled with a single device.

Put simply, assistive technology is any technology that can be used to overcome the challenges caused by an injury or disability and to enhance functional capabilities. 

IBM’s Training Manual, 1991 stated, “For people without disabilities, technology makes things easier. For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible.” Whilst compensation can’t turn back the clock or remove the disability, our clients are often surprised by how much can be made possible through the help they receive from our skillful handling of their claim.

Examples of how assistive technology can support clients with Erb’s palsy

A child who wants to play music

Children often enjoy exploring their creative side and may wish to play a musical instrument. Depending on the severity of the brachial plexus injury, this may not be physically possible for a child with Erb’s palsy. In such cases, other technological alternatives can be explored, such as a music-making system, allowing the child to compose and play music.

A young adult wanting to drive

Depending on the level of injury, a young adult with Erb’s palsy might find it difficult to drive a car. A car with an automatic gearbox and voice-operated controls can make driving easier and safer.

An office worker

An office worker with Erb’s palsy may struggle to work independently without accessible technology in the workplace. Helpful adjustments within an office environment may include a touchscreen computer, a headset, a wireless mouse and speech recognition software.

A parent

Home and environmental controls operated by an adult with Erb’s palsy from their computer or phone can provide them with a greater level of independence, convenience and safety when at home.

Controls which can help with the opening and closing of doors, curtains and windows can be of great assistance especially when holding a child.

A client with Erb’s palsy may feel more vulnerable to an increased risk of injury, for example, not being able to break a fall with their arms, or being less able to defend themselves if faced with an intruder at home. An alarm system and door entry monitors can help create a safer and more secure home environment in which they can live more independently.

What assistive technology is right for a client with Erb’s palsy?

The impact of Erb’s palsy on daily life usually becomes more apparent as the child grows up. Our clients often find that the restrictions caused by their condition become even more apparent and challenging in adulthood, particularly when they become independent and want to have their own home and family.

Expert assessment and identification of the most appropriate technology, or combination of technologies, is essential if our clients are to live as independently as possible, as well as opening opportunities and pathways to education and employment. It can be difficult for people needing assistive technology, or those caring for them, to know what technology is available for their specific needs and also how to access this technology. The technology market evolves quickly, often creating newer, updated software or equipment than the client would realise is available. 

At Boyes Turner we work with independent assistive technology experts to assess our clients’ needs and give them guidance on the types of assistive technology which may be most helpful to them now and throughout their lifetime. The expert visits the client at their home to understand the client’s requirements and then provides a detailed report setting out technology recommendations which are specifically tailored to the client’s individual needs.

Who pays for the technology?

We include the costs of the assistive technology recommendations within the valuation of the medical negligence Erb’s palsy claim. As soon as liability is agreed, we obtain interim payments to help meet the costs of meeting our client’s urgent needs. The final compensation settlement then provides money which can be used to fund the client’s technology requirements and any replacements that may be needed over the client’s lifetime.

If you or someone you care for have Erb’s palsy and you would like to find out more about how we can help you by making a claim, contact us by email at