A law firm with offices in Ilkley and Guiseley is fighting to raise awareness and funds to support sufferers of Erb’s Palsy, a condition that can be caused by birth trauma.

Ison Harrison is one of just three law firms in England and Wales recommended by national charity the Erb’s Palsy Group and the only law firm with the group in the North of England. Ison Harrison’s clinical negligence team is officially recognised as specialist in Erb’s Palsy cases and the team’s head of clinical negligence, James Thompson is the sole Erb's Palsy Group recommended solicitor in the North.

Affecting one in 1,800 newborns, Erb’s Palsy is a traumatic birth injury that can leave a baby’s shoulder, arm and hand severely paralysed. Also known as Brachial Plexus Paralysis, Erb’s Palsy is not a congenital condition but an injury, caused by trauma during delivery generally with larger babies that get stuck after their head has been delivered.

Although he deals with all types of clinical negligence, Mr Thompson specialises in acting for patients with life-changing catastrophic injuries especially Erb's and Cerebral Palsy.

James Thompson said: “Over the years I’ve built up a very close emotional bond with some of the families and kids affected by the condition. Their can-do attitude and refusal to let their injuries hold them back are inspirational. I’ve been very fortunate to establish a strong relationship with the Erb’s Palsy Group and as a firm we are keen to do all we can to support families whose lives have been impacted by this avoidable condition. Affecting one or all five of the primary nerves that run from the spinal column in the neck down to the fingers, Erb's Palsy can range from partial to complete paralysis in sufferers.

“The brachial plexus is most often injured when the head is subjected to a pulling force during delivery. When a delivery is complicated by shoulder dystocia, (when the baby’s shoulder facing towards mum’s belly gets stuck behind her pubic symphysis) it should be recognised quickly. If the clinician applies traction while the baby is stuck, the brachial plexus may suffer nerve damage, ranging from bruising to tearing. There are established maneuvers and other steps which should be taken so that the shoulder becomes unstuck and the baby can then be delivered.

“If it should have been recognised that the baby was going to be big before being born, it is also necessary to examine the delivery plan and consider whether delivery by caesarean section should have occurred to avoid the risk of shoulder dystocia.

“The standards of care expected from clinicians have changed over the years and establishing what should have been provided in 1993 compared to say 2001 can be very technical. It is therefore very important that any child who suffers an Erb’s Palsy injury at birth instructs a recommended specialist firm to investigate and pursue their case.

“No single test can predict if a baby will recover from Erb’s Palsy; some recover on their own with physiotherapy, whilst more serious cases may require nerve graft, tendon transfer or release surgery.

“Occasionally, there can also be a failure to follow-up and treat children and this can lead to their condition deteriorating and them developing chronic pain conditions as well as impacting on their mental health.”

In support of Erb’s Palsy Awareness Week which ran until July 2, staff from across Ison Harrison’s regional offices took part in fundraising through office bake sales, donations and prize raffles.