Dr. Fingerstein

As we approach the celebration of Halloween, now is a good time to review some knife safety skills. Many people enjoy carving pumpkins and making pumpkin pies in light of the crisp Fall weather. Unfortunately, there is often an increase in knife related injuries at this time of year. So, let’s review some important knife safety skills to avoid a trip to the ER.

First, I have a question for you. Which one is safer: a sharp knife or a dull knife? The answer is that a sharp knife is safer than a dull one. If someone uses a dull knife, then more force is required to cut through whatever texture is being cut. This increases the risk of the knife slipping and accidentally cutting the user of the knife. On the other hand, using a sharp knife allows the user to cut an object with less force and more ease, thereby, decreasing the risk of the knife slipping a causing an injury.

Secondly, and more importantly, always cut away from yourself and never toward yourself. At some point in your life when using a knife, the knife will slip. It’s not a question of if it will slip, it’s a question of when it will slip. When it slips, whatever is in the way of knife’s path will be cut. So, making sure your hand is not in the path of the knife’s blade is very important. This simple guideline can save you lots of time in surgery and therapy.

If you decide not to honor these two simple guidelines, what can happen? The injury most likely to occur in this situation is laceration of a tendon and/or nerve. We have treated many tendon and nerve injuries related to knife injuries. Just this year, we had one patient lacerate her flexor tendon while cutting a pineapple and another cut her tendon while cutting a coconut. While making pina coladas can be great for parties, these poor ladies were not excited about the surgery and hand therapy required following their knife related injuries. The typical course of treatment following a flexor tendon injury lasts 3-4 months. Following the surgery, the patient is placed into a custom fabricated splint for up to 6 weeks. Strengthening activities are not typically started until 7 weeks post-op. It takes 12 weeks for the tendon to be fully healed. Needless to say, a small knife accident can cause a large headache.

In the case that you or someone know suffers a laceration of a tendon or nerve, the experts at Ascend Hand Therapy are here to help. We are fortunate to have several great hand surgeons in the area should you require their services. We can help you find the right doctor for you and can take care of all your therapy needs. However, let’s be safe this month and avoid the need for our services by following the two simple guidelines reviewed today. Now, I think it’s time for some homemade pumpkin pie! Yum!

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