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Does the HELPERR Mnemonic Really Help?


Statistically, serious birth injuries are not very common. But that’s very little comfort for the thousands of Florida families who must care for disabled children. For many years, medical professionals have relied on the HELPERR mnemonic device to avert brain injuries due to shoulder dystocia. This condition is perhaps the most common cause of cerebral palsy, which is an L&D birth injury. If the baby is too large to drift down the mother’s birth canal, the umbilical cord can almost literally strangle the fragile infant in less than five minutes.

Because these injuries are permanent, families usually need significant resources to care for these children. Additionally, families deserve compensation for the pain and suffering which medical negligence caused. This compensation is available, but a Brandon personal injury attorney must be highly experienced to obtain it.

Many times, the seeds of a successful action are sown in the delivery room. To put it bluntly, the HELPERR mnemonic does not help much.

Call for Help

This first response might seem like the only one necessary. But to many medical professionals, asking for heal is a sign of weakness. So, they often hesitate to make such calls, either because of their own feelings or the fear of what their colleagues might think. Additionally, unless the crisis occurs at a large or mid-sized hospital during the middle of the day, there may be no help available.

Evaluate for Episiotomy

Once upon a time, doctors routinely made small incisions on the mother’s perineum (area between the anus and genitals) believing that they widened the mother’s birth canal. Doctors now know that, at best such incisions only make subsequent emergency maneuvers more effective. Typically, an episiotomy causes uncontrollable maternal bleeding, either at the time or later.

Legs (McRoberts Maneuver)

Simply elevating the mother’s legs is often an effective way to move a large baby down the birth canal. However, this maneuver is only about 80 percent effective. Additionally, it usually takes some time for the gravitational shift to work. By this point, the clock is ticking, and time is short.

Suprapubic Pressure

SP is a bit like CPR on the mother’s abdomen. Doctors find the baby’s anterior shoulder and gently press on it to push the baby down the birth canal. Much like the McRoberts maneuver, SP is usually, but not always, effective. And, it usually takes some time to work.

Enter Maneuvers

There is an old saying that desperate times call for desperate measures. By this point, about three minutes have usually elapsed since the delivery crisis began. Theoretically, the doctor can manipulate the fetus to help the baby pass down the birth canal. This maneuver is almost impossible to perform under ideal circumstances. Frequently, because newborns are so small, doctors do more harm than good when they attempt such complex maneuvers.

Remove the Posterior Arm

Not much needs to be said here. If most mothers had a choice between a maimed infant and a stillborn infant, they would probably choose the former. Since the baby is still in the womb, this surgical procedure is extremely difficult to perform, to say the least.

Roll the Patient

There is almost no evidence that supports this birth assistance technique. It usually falls into the category of “we did all we could.”

Rely on Experienced Attorneys

A few moments of negligence in the labor room can cause a lifelong injury. For a free consultation with an experienced Brandon personal injury lawyer, contact Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).


Brandon Personal Injury
Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law, is located in Brandon, FL and serves clients in
and around Brandon, Tampa, Apollo Beach, Sydney, Gibsonton, Balm, Valrico, Wimauma, Sun City Center, Lithia, Ruskin, Durant, and Hillsborough County.

Our Locations


101 East Lumsden Road
Brandon, FL 33511
Tel: 813-438-5960
Fax: 813-438-5995

St. Petersburg

1700 66th Street North, Ste. 104-1008
St. Petersburg, FL 33710
Tel: 727-362-7520
Fax: 727-362-7521


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Lakeland, FL 33801
Tel: 863-274-7715
Fax: 863-274-7716


401 E Jackson Street, Ste. 2340
Tampa, FL 33602
Tel: 813-440-6678
Fax: 813-440-6682


13575 58th Street N, Ste. 200
Clearwater, FL 33760
Tel: 727-767-9914
Fax: 727-767-9915


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