July 13, 2006

Jennifer Gremmels

Hand Surgeons Advise: Keep Your Yard and Hands in Top Shape this Summer


Rosemont, Ill. - The buzz of lawnmowers across the neighborhood is a sure sign that summer has arrived. Though many of us do not enjoy mowing our lawns, it is important that proper precautions are taken to prevent hand injuries. Lawnmowers can cut and crush multiple fingers with injury to the bones, joints, tendons, nerves, arteries, veins, and skin causing severe damage to the hands.

"Prevention of injury is crucial when operating a lawnmower," said American Society for Surgery of the Hand  member, Frederick F. Fakharzadeh, MD, of Paramus, NJ. “The machine is capable of causing significant damage and you may not get a second chance if you make a mistake.” Dr. Fakharzadeh cautions operators to make sure they follow the instructions on safe operation of the lawnmower, and do not override the safety provisions that have been built in to protect you and others around you.

The American Society for Surgery of the Hand encourages individuals that are going to be mowing lawns this summer to review the following safety tips:

1. Read the operator’s manual carefully prior to using the machine
2. Never put your hand or fingers near the moving parts or intake or output areas of lawnmowers. If there is an object in the way of any part of the machine, the machine should be turned off before attempting to remove the object
3. Objects should be removed with a tool and not the hand or fingers
4. Proper hand and footwear should be used; non-slip, non-open toe shoes should be worn. Protective gloves can give some protection, but the force from the machine can still cause extensive damage despite the gloves
5. Clear the lawn of debris, such as rocks, sticks, toys and other objects.  Objects picked up and hurled by the blade can cause injuries
6. Inspect the lawnmower to ensure all protective devices are in place before starting the machine. These safeguards were put in place for the users’ protection and will prevent injuries
7. Do not fill the gasoline tank while the engine is running. Allow the machine to cool, fill it with fuel outdoors and wipe up spills
8. Set the blade with the machine off and spark-plugs removed/disconnected
9. Children and pets should not be permitted in the mowing area.  The machine can pick up and throw objects.
10. Don't operate a mower when your reflexes are impaired by a substance.
11. Should you cut your finger or hand, bleeding from minor cuts will often stop on their own by applying direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth. Visit an emergency room or a hand surgeon if: continuous pressure does not stop the bleeding after 15 minutes; you notice persistent numbness or tingling in the fingertip; you are unsure of your tetanus immunization status or you are unable to thoroughly cleanse the wound by rinsing with a mild soap and plenty of clean water.

About Hand Surgeons
Hand surgeons have received specialized additional training in the treatment of hand problems in addition to their board certified specialty training in orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, or general surgery. To become members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, hand surgeons must have completed a full year of such additional training and must pass a rigorous certifying examination. Many hand surgeons also have expertise with problems of the elbow, arm, and shoulder. Some hand surgeons treat only children, some treat only adults, and some treat both. Common problems treated include carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, wrist pain, sports injuries of the hand and wrist, fractures of the hand, wrist, and forearm, and trigger fingers. Other problems treated by hand surgeons include arthritis, nerve and tendon injuries, and congenital limb differences (birth defects). Not all problems treated by a hand surgeon need surgery. Hand surgeons often recommend non-surgical treatments, such as medication, splints, therapy, and injections. Hand surgeons are specialists devoted to hand care.

About the ASSH
The mission of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) is to advance the science and practice of hand surgery through education, research and advocacy on behalf of patients and practitioners. Founded in 1946, the American Society for Surgery of the Hand is the oldest medical specialty society in the United States devoted entirely to continuing medical education related to hand surgery.