Erb's Palsy explained as Love Islander is first on show with the disability

Patsy Love Island promo picture
-Credit: (Image: ITV)

Love Island 2024 has kicked off, introducing viewers to a fresh group of singles ready to find romance in the show's 11th series. Among the contestants is Patsy Field, who has a disability.

In the opening episode on June 3, the office worker and social media influencer said: "I do have a condition. I have a disability on my right arm. It's called Erb's Palsy."

The 29-year-old said: "It doesn't affect me that much in day-to-day life. It's a little bit smaller than my left one. It just moves slightly differently. But, other than that it's just another wonderful, interesting, quirky thing about me."

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Before the start of Love Island, Patsy discussed the modifications made to the villa to accommodate her needs, commending the producers for their efforts to ensure accessibility. She expressed her satisfaction with the support, saying: "I'm definitely being well looked after."

Patsy marks a first for Love Island as the inaugural contestant with Erb's Palsy. Patsy's Erb's Palsy arose from birth complications, resulting in one arm being weaker and shorter due to nerve damage incurred during labour.

What exactly is Erb's Palsy?

The NHS describes Erb's Palsy as a condition that hampers a baby's ability to move their arm, stemming from an injury to the nerves in the arm. Erb's Palsy, also known as Shoulder Dystocia or Obstetric Brachial Plexus Injury, occurs during birth as the baby travels through the birth canal, causing the nerve along their arm to stretch.

It's estimated that about 85 out of every 100 babies (85%) fully recover from this condition. Mild cases typically see recovery within one to eight weeks.

How is Erb's Palsy treated?

Erb’s Palsy is an injury, so to begin with, it needs rest to recover rather than treatment. This means keeping your baby’s arm supported and moving their shoulder as little as possible.

After five days, the nerve usually has been rested enough to allow very gentle exercises to begin. Parents with a child with Erb's Palsy should be referred to the physiotherapist by a paediatrician.

The aims of these exercises will be:

  • To prevent your baby’s muscles from becoming short.

  • To prevent your baby’s joints from becoming stiff.

  • To give your baby the feeling of normal movement, so that when their recovery begins they will not have forgotten how to use their arm (remember those kicks and punches in the womb).

  • To continue to stimulate the feeling in your baby’s arm.

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