Stay Focused to Avoid Snow Blower Hand Injuries

Surgical Advances Provide Hope for Accidents, but Prevention is Key

Feb 06, 2013, 09:45 ET from AZ Healthcare Communications

TARRYTOWN, N.Y., Feb. 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Each year about 5,700 people in the United States visit an emergency room due to an overlooked seasonal health risk: snow blower-related injuries. These include fractured bones, cuts to skin and soft tissue, and serious bruises or sprains. In more than 10 percent of injuries, the snow blower amputates the user's hand, fingers or both.

"Snow blower injuries tend to happen when someone stops paying attention for even a few seconds," said R. Michael Koch, M.D., assistant professor of Surgery at New York Medical College, Chief of the Microsurgery and Replantation service at the Westchester Medical Center, and a surgeon with the New York Group for Plastic Surgery.  "Even after the snow blower is turned off, tension is stored in the rotor blades. A hand or finger stuck in to remove wet snow or ice is at risk for being cut, mangled or even amputated."

Fortunately, advances in microsurgery often enable surgeons to reattach, replace or patch injured hands and fingers. A microsurgeon uses specialized tools with microscopes to select and lift tiny blood vessels, nerves and tissue like skin or fat from a healthy part of a patient's body to repair the wounded area.

Dr. Koch offers tips to keep limbs safe during snow blower season:

  • Keep hands and fingers out of the snow blower mechanism whether it's running OR turned off – tension stored in the blades may cause them to release and turn when a stuck object is removed.
  • Take advantage of safety devices built into most new-model snow blowers -- do not disable them. Take time to review the key safety features in the owner's manual.
  • PAY ATTENTION! Snow blower accidents often happen when thoughts and focus are elsewhere. Many people seriously injured from snow blowers simply got distracted, or rushed and skipped important safety steps.
  • Wear thick gloves when using a snow blower. They may not offer complete protection from injury, but can lessen the impact and are preferable to thin gloves or none at all.

For most people, pushing a snow blower is not an activity they do routinely. So pay attention, and focus on clearing snow thoroughly, but safely.

The New York Group for Plastic Surgery (NYGPS) is comprised of highly trained plastic surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). The surgeons are recognized for their specialized medical and cosmetic surgical skills and personalized patient care.

Andrea Ziltzer
AZ Healthcare Communications

SOURCE AZ Healthcare Communications