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Erb's Palsy victim sets sights on college baseball

When a baby is injured during child-birth, the story may make local news reports. We have previously discussed brachial plexus injuries and their potential causes. Stories involving these kinds of birth injuries, including those that discuss the issues using one of several common terms for these birth injuries, Erb’s Palsy, can be heart breaking. During this holiday season, today’s story for our Worcester area readers is about a young man who has spent his life with limited use of an arm runs on a somewhat different course.

A little more than 18-years-ago a Midwestern man was born. During childbirth, his right arm was compromised—he has been diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy. In his youth—at age 5—he underwent a major surgical procedure where doctors gave him an artificial bicep. He still has limited use of his right arm. He cannot straighten the arm at the elbow.

He grew up learning to deal with a compromised arm. Like many kids, he had an interest in sports. His ability to swim, play football and participate in many childhood activities as he grew up was impaired by his birth injury. But, when it came to baseball he was determined to persevere. Over the years he taught himself how to deal with the compromised arm on the ball field.

He owns two gloves, a right-handed mitt and one for lefties. He uses the right handed mitt when he is tapped to pitch—keeping his left arm free to throw. In the outfield he wears the left-handed mitt to catch the ball. He has learned through hard work how to transfer the mitt to his right arm to throw the ball where it needs to go from the field. After playing varsity high-school ball, the young man plans to play college ball at a small university in his hometown.

Kids are kids. Families with a child who has suffered a birth injury have hopes for their child. Unfortunately, no parent hopes that a child will be born with a birth injury. Few children experience surgery at such a young age as the baseball player. The treatment and care for a child with birth injuries can put a strain on a family budget.

Source: The Forum of Fargo-Morehead, “Valley City's Austin Berg has overcome the difficulties associated with Erb’s palsy to excel at baseball,” Tom Mix, Dec. 22, 2013

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