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Orthopaedic Surgeon: Everyday Items that Cause Serious Injuries

Dr. Robert Howard

Having been an orthopaedic surgeon for the past 11 years specializing in trauma surgery, I have treated many different types of injuries – some of which still amaze me.  However, I have come to expect the cause of the many severe injuries.

The biggest injury offenders are:

Trampolines are notorious for causing injures, including fractures of the wrist and elbow. These injuries are mostly seen in children and rarely adults.  However, there is a great potential for serious neck and head injuries as well.  My recommendation: never have a trampoline at home, and if you do have one follow the safety rules closely.  Make sure it is on level ground with an intact safety net, supervise children at all times and make sure there is only one person on the trampoline at a time.   

Ladders are another pretty common cause of severe injury – primarily to the foot and ankle, and occasionally the spine.  Always follow safety recommendations for ladder use.  Do not exceed the maximum load for the ladder, ensure it is the proper size for the job, and always use the ladder on level ground with your body centered on it.  And, never step on the top – it really is not a step!

Table Saws cause severe injuries like amputations.  Always use safety precautions because it is not easy to reattach a finger – I guarantee that reattached finger will never work exactly the same. 

Playground Equipment is fun, but it is also a common cause of injury in children.  Both public and home playground equipment can be dangerous, however home playground swings are often the most dangerous because children are not as closely supervised and use them in unconventional ways.  Ensure that there is a soft landing surface, the equipment is well maintained and adults supervise play.

Bicycles: Last year alone, emergency departments across the U.S. treated more than 500,000 injuries that resulted from riding a bike.  Children are at a particularly high risk.  Always wear a helmet, check the brakes, make sure the bike is well maintained, don’t bike at night, and  always obey traffic laws

Skateboards or wheelie shoe accidents often cause injuries to the head, neck and upper extremities.  Make sure your child always wears a helmet when riding anything with wheels, understands the danger of vehicle collisions, never ride in the middle of the street, only have one person per skateboard and never hitch a ride on a car or bicycle.

Lawnmowers can cause serious injuries to feet – both the users and innocent bystanders like children.  Lawnmowers have also been known to cause cardiac arrest.   Be aware of where children are at all times and that they are a safe distance from the lawnmower.  Always wear ear and eye protection.  And, if you have cardiac disease let someone else do the mowing.  

Pets:  Dog and cat bites can cause infections usually in the hand.  Additionally, dogs or cats get caught up in feet and cause falls, which can be especially dangerous for folks who have difficulty walking or seeing.  Pools cause slips and falls and drowning accidents.  Exercise caution when in and around water all the time.

Area rugs and bath mats cause a surprising number of very bad falls, especially in the elderly where the fall often results in hip fractures.  Make sure all area rugs, including bath mats, are secured to the floor.  

Dr. Robert Howard is an orthopaedic surgeon with Wake Orthopaedics.