Holiday injuries keep emergency rooms busy

PHILADELPHIA - December 20, 2010

Linda Pudles recalls her accident a little sheepishly. Last year she was on the phone, making soup with a handheld blender.

"I pulled the plug and I'm holding the wand. I put my finger in to clean it out," she said. Unfortunately, Linda didn't realize the blender wasn't completely unplugged.

She accidentally turned it back on, and the whirring blades cut off the tip of her right index finger.

Dr. David Zelouf of the Philadelphia Hand Center sees a lot of accidents involving the hands over the holidays and says severe damage can happen in the blink of an eye.

"The vital structures of the hand are directly underneath the skin, and it's very easy to lacerate tendons and nerves," Dr. Zelouf said.

Knives are the most common source of cuts, while broken glasses or dishes are also a danger. So are motorized appliances like blenders, food processors, and garbage disposals.

Dr. Zelouf also sees broken wrists and fingers from falls on ice, and from people cutting corners while decorating.

"People don't take time to get a ladder, and instead stand on a chair," he said.

Many holiday hand injuries can also be blamed on plastic clamshell packaging - the plastic itself can cut skin but, more often, people are injured with the knives or scissors they use to open the packaging.

To repair Linda's injury, Dr. Zelouf grafted skin from the side of her hand to the tip of her finger. She has some nerve damage, which may be permanent, but is otherwise okay.

Now, she regularly offers some advice - be very aware of what you're doing, all the time.

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