Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ

Question:

Our family is worried about Dad's use of power tools in his garage shop. He's always worked around saws and other potentially dangerous tools. But his eyesight's not what it used to be. He takes blood thinners to prevent a stroke. It just doesn't seem like a good combination for continuing his hobby. Should we say something? How can you take away a man's hobby after all these years?

Answer:

Every year, 100,000 people of all ages from young to old receive medical care for hand injuries linked to power tools. The sharp, rotating blade can tear up soft tissues, blood vessels, nerves, and even fracture bones and amputate fingers. That's a gruesome picture but one that should be considered by anybody using these tools at home or at work. Since many of these tools do not have any real safety features, it's up to all of us as consumers and concerned citizens to lobby for the development of protective features. It's also up to each one using the tools to review safety rules and follow them at all times. Older adults are a special group to be concerned about. Failing vision, decreased physical strength and coordination, and memory loss are all important factors in these kinds of injuries. Sometimes seniors are taking medications such as anticoagulants (blood thinners) that put them at even greater risk. The first place to start may be with a sincere and loving, but frank talk with your father. This can be very difficult as the parent faces being parented or supervised by their child(ren). That doesn't always sit well with older adults. Often the decline of motor function and vision is gradual enough that they are unaware of how unsafe some situations may be. And if memory is a problem, they may not remember your words of caution or even how to stay safe. There may come a time when it's necessary to remove all power tools from the area. Making this determination is often very difficult. Waiting until an unfortunate accident occurs is one way many families approach this problem, but it's certainly not ideal. Samuel C. Hoxie, MD, et al. The Economic Impact of Electric Saw Injuries to the Hand. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. May-June 2009. Vol. 34A. No. 5. Pp. 886-889.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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