Spring is a great time to get outdoors and start working on your yard and garden. This also means you’ll be performing more hand-intensive activities that involve repetitive motions, using power equipment and hand tools­­—all of which increase your risk for hand injuries.

As Alex Ferrara, MS, OTR/L, CHT, Occupational Therapist and Hand Therapy Supervisor—Virtua Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation - Sewell, explains, following some simple precautions can help you avoid injuries and enjoy these activities safely:

Lawn mower safety

Lawn mower injuries are a common cause of hand injuries. According to a 2018 Public Health Reports study, there were more than 51,000 lawn mower injuries between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2013, and about 65% of them involved the hand or wrist.

Common lawn mower hand injuries include:

  • Cuts
  • Fractures
  • Amputations
  • Burns

These tips can help you stay safe while you’re mowing the lawn:

  • Wear gloves when operating a lawn mower.
  • Never put your hand or fingers near moving parts of the lawnmower.
  • Don’t use your hand to unclog lawn mower jams. Turn off the lawn mower, remove the spark plug, and then use a stick or tool to clear the clog.
  • Avoid touching hot parts of the lawn mower.
  • Never lift a lawn mower from the bottom.

Gardening safety

Gardening is a great activity, providing low-impact exercise, as well as personal satisfaction from creating beautiful landscaping to harvesting healthy fruits and vegetables. However, even gardening has potential for injuries, including:

  • Cuts
  • Puncture wounds from thorns
  • Trigger finger from repetitive gripping and squeezing of shears or tools
  • Tendonitis from repetitive wrist motions

These tips can help you stay safe while you’re gardening:

  • Wear protective gloves to avoid cuts and puncture injuries.
  • Use tools with large handles to avoid stress on finger joints.
  • Wear protective gloves with padded palms to avoid friction on your palms when using tools.
  • Avoid flexing your wrist too far up or down.
  • Take a break every 20 or 30 minutes during long periods of gardening.

Following this advice can help you SAFELY enjoy a beautiful lawn and garden. If you need care for a wrist or hand injury, Virtua Hand Surgery and Rehabilitation offers a full range of services from physical therapy to minimally invasive procedures. Call 888-847-8823 for an appointment or information.

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