There's a patient no plastic surgeon wants to see--someone who has fallen victim to a lawnmower accident. But every summer, thousands of people unfortunately become disfigured in these preventable incidents. Even more distressing, many victims are children.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), lawnmower accidents are on the rise. Almost 250,000 people in the U.S. were treated for lawnmower injuries in 2009, reports the ASPS in a June 8, 2010 news release, a 7 percent increase over the 2008 number. (Read the entire release here: http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Media.) More than 18,000 of the 2009 victims were 18 years old or younger.
The situation has prompted several medical organizations to band together to prevent children from being injured by lawnmowers. It’s somewhat unusual for so many groups to tackle an issue jointly, but these cases, as the ASPS article points out, often require surgeons to work together to restore form and function to young patients. In that light, the idea for physicians to issue joint warnings and advice seems like a natural one.
As Dr. Michael McGuire, ASPS president, explained, “Lawn mower injuries often include deep cuts, loss of fingers and toes, limb amputations, broken and dislocated bones, burns, and eye injuries.” A team of doctors from fields like plastic surgery, orthopedic surgery, maxillofacial surgery, microsurgery and pediatrics can be needed for a single case. Sometimes a child requires multiple procedures over a period of months or even years.
To Dr. Peter Neligan, president of the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery (ASRM), lawnmower accidents involving children are, “among the most devastating I’ve seen in over 20 years of practice.” The incidents are doubly tragic, he notes, because they are almost always due to a lapse in adult attention.
The ASPS and ASRM, together with the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons (ASMS), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), would like to remind adults that these accidents are preventable. The organizations offer these tips: