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Doctor: Troy, Please Don't Stick Your Hand in a Snowblower

Beaumont doctors see increase of hand injuries due in part to wet, heavy snowfall.

If you will be coming home on Wednesday afternoon with plans of snowblowing in doctors suggest against cutting corners in your work.

Stephen Smith, MD, with Emergency Medicine Training at Troy Beaumont, said that instances of hand injuries, which in some cases includes amputation of fingers, have increased as residents dug out from 3 inches of heavy, wet snow this week.

"It's a marked increase and we think it has to do with particular characteristics of this snow," Smith said. "Snowblowers are less effective with heavy, wet snow, and we're seeing people reaching inside to clear out a clog."

One person who came to the hospital this week had to have two fingers removed, Smith said, but it could be worse. Deep cuts in the palm and wrist area could lead to delayed problems caused from significant blood loss, and failure to properly treat a wound is a leading cause of infection, he said.

Snowblowers which clog most easily are also most widely-used, Smith said. Even after the snowblower is turned off, tension can be stored in the rotor blades. 

Your best gloves can protect from frostbite, but not from a snowblower: "One person came in today after the snowblower took his glove, with his fingers inside of it," Smith said.

The injuries are not to be taken lightly. In addition to amputations, patients can usually count on weeks of casting and an even more significant time for rehabilitation, Smith said.

"It's especially bad if people injure their dominant hand, which is what we usually see. The fingers we usually see injured are the index and the thumb, which are obviously used very often," Smith added. 

The late night forecast on Wednesday calls for an 80 percent chance of precipitation, especially after 12 midnight, according to the National Weather Service. However, the forecast for Thursday's high temperature is above freezing at 36 degrees.

Cyd S March 05, 2013 at 01:18 PM
I practice emergency medicine also. I simply amazes me how many people will feed their body parts into shredders, lawn mowers and snow blowers. How many times does it need to be said??? Just don't do it, PLEASE!!!!!! Some companies make long tools to use specifically for unclogging snow blowers. Whatever it costs, buy one! It is worth it in the end. It beats watching those of us who work in the ER's just shake our heads and raise an eyebrow wondering how stupid can a person be to intentionally want to hurt themselves.
Jeanine Robinson March 05, 2013 at 05:20 PM
The "to intentionally want to hurt themselves" could have been left out. Stupid yes, intentional no. Did you ever hear of an accident?

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