Despite the warnings that come with every lawn mower purchase, children in the United States still suffer severe lawn mower-related injuries. It was also revealed during the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) that 53 percent of the total number of reported cases required amputation.
Researchers analyzed the data from the Pennsylvania Trauma Outcome Study which consist of 199 children between the ages 0 to 17 with an average age of 8, who were hospitalized for lawn mower-related injuries between 2002 and 2013.
According to medicalxpress.com, findings revealed that 81 percent of the cases involved boys, and 55 percent of the incidents were a result of riding a lawn mower. It was also discovered that 91 percent of the cases happened between April and September and the most common injured site is the lower extremity which accounted for 65 percent. Among the 199 children who were admitted in different trauma centers, 106 had to undergo amputation of the affected area.
US News reported that Dr. Douglas Armstrong, the senior study author and a professor of orthopedic surgery and division head of pediatric orthopedics at Penn State Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, warned people how dangerous lawn mowers are. “All lawn mowers have a tremendous amount of kinetic energy given off at the tip of the lawn mower blade. It’s higher than a bullet leaving the muzzle of a 357 Magnum, which means that the injuries we see are not just lacerations, they’re the result of something more like an explosion or blast injury,” he explained.
The study also revealed that one child aged 1 was killed due to an incident involving ride-on lawn mower. “The vast majority of the injuries could have been prevented if safety guidelines had been followed,” Armstrong said.
An advisory was issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommending that no child below the age of 16 should be allowed to operate a ride-on mower while powered or non-powered push mower should only be operated by children ages 12 and up. The advisory warned parents living on farmlands or in the suburbs to ensure that no child under the age of 6 are outdoors when mower is in operation. Kids shouldn’t also be allowed to become passengers of mowers operated by adults.
Study: More than half of lawn mower injuries in children lead to amputation
Douglas Armstrong, MD, director of pediatric orthopedic surgery at Penn State Hershey Pediatric Bone and Joint Institute and colleagues studied data from the Pennsylvania Trauma Outcome Study of 199 children, ages 17 years and under, admitted to a pediatric or adult trauma center between 2002 and 2013 with lawn mower injury.
According to a press release from the meeting, boys accounted for 81% of injuries, 55% of injuries involved a riding mower and the most common injury site was the lower extremity which accounted for 65% of injuries.
Injuries were caused most commonly when children ran behind a mower; slipped under the mower while riding as passenger; collided with mower blades when machines were steered in reverse; and were struck by a mower that rolled over due to an uneven and/or wet surface. In many cases adults did not realize children were near the mower when injuries occurred.
A total of 106 children required amputation and 91% of injuries occurred between April and September.
The study also found many parents and children are unaware of, or not following, safety tips and precautions offered by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Academy of Pediatrics and other child and health organizations.
“We have to find a way to stop kids from being around lawn mowers,” Armstrong said in the release. “Many parents do not realize that the blade is such a forceful, blunt instrument — even if it is hidden under the mower.”
He added, “These injuries are devastating to kids and their families.”
Armstrong and colleagues recommended the creation of a spring education campaign that employs social media, school nurses, pediatricians, TV ads and other resources to remind parents how to keep children safe from lawn mower injuries.
Armstrong D, et al. Poster #506. Presented at: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting; March 1-5, 2016; Orlando, Fla.
Disclosure: Armstrong reports no relevant financial disclosures.