Your hands are your livelihood – keep them safe!

by TOI Admin July 29, 2013

By Kerri Kitchens, MOTR/L

Trips to the beach, grilling out with friends and family, tending to the garden, yard work and many other fun outdoor activities can provide healthy benefits, but unfortunately these activities can lead to accidental injuries requiring medical intervention. Since hands are so “handy” in catching falls, grasping rope swings and holding horse reigns, hand injuries are very common. Here are a few categories of injuries and tips to help avoid these injuries.

Power Tools and Lawn Equipment

Before checking off items from the “do it yourself” and “honey-do” lists that require the use of power tools and lawn equipment, you might find these suggestions helpful in minimizing your chances of hand lacerations or finger amputations:

  • Make sure the power tool or lawn equipment is completely powered off prior to making any adjustments.
  • Inspect power tools and lawn equipment for proper safety mechanisms, guards, and other measures to prevent injury. If your tool is lacking in a specific safety measure, repair it prior to using the tool.
  • Wear protective gear appropriate for tool use (Example: gloves, protective eye wear).
  • Establish safe practice when utilizing power tools to minimize distraction. Pay attention and be sure to take your time when using power tools and lawn equipment.
  • Avoid mowing the lawn when the grass is wet as this can clog your mower more quickly. If you must reach near blades to remove a clog, ensure your mower is completely powered off prior to doing so.

Playground Injuries

Playgrounds can mean a shady park complete with monkey bars and swings or a riverside park complete with catapulting slides and high drop rope swings.

  • At the playground, be sure to wear proper foot attire that provides traction during climbing.
  • Assist your child with the monkey bars should your child lose his/her grip.
  • At the river, if you rope swing, be sure to avoid wrapping the rope around your hand or fingers.

Gardening and Yard Play

Those with a green thumb can be at risk of upper extremity injuries including wrist fractures and repetitive stress injuries such as thumb pain and arthritis.

  • Minimize your fall and upper extremity fracture risks by keeping tools and gardens neat and organized. Be sure to put away tools once they are used to avoid tripping and falling.
  • Be aware of the nuances throughout your yard like old tree stumps, softer areas of ground and yard ornaments.
  • Fill holes and low areas in your yard to minimize tripping hazards.
  • Invest in larger handled ergonomic tools to protect the small joints in your hand.
  • Avoid repetitive tasks or holding a position for long periods of time.

Sports

A little friendly competition should be just that - and injury free.

  • Proper safety attire during backyard sports can help prevent injuries. For example, using a glove during a game of catch can prevent contusions and nerve compression to the hand.
  • Flags in a game of flag football are a common source of finger fractures. Take care when you make a “tackle” by not wrapping the flag around your fingers; try to grasp the flag instead.
  • During horseback riding, avoid wrapping reigns around your fingers.

The hand is comprised of multiple bones and ligaments, therefore allowing hand injuries to easily occur when precaution isn’t taken. Utilizing protective gear and taking the time to be more cautious can aid in prevention of hand injuries. With these tips, you can help prevent future injuries to your hands and the hands of your loved ones.

Image source: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/old-baseball-glove-photo-p185918

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TOI's Blog is dedicated to patient education with topics addressing current issues in health and medicine. We will also blog about some of our other favorite things, like community events, our wonderful employees, helping the environment and whatever else comes to our minds! We hope the information contained in our blog is fun to read, assists you in making educated decisions regarding your health, and supports your decision to select TOI when you are in need of quality musculoskeletal care.

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