As COVID-19 has reduced travel and most activities outside the home, many have refocused their energies on do-it-yourself projects, which can come with their own set of risks, most commonly hand, arm, elbow and shoulder injuries. From crafty décor to landscaping and home improvement, the fellowship-trained hand surgeons of ReconHand at Reconstructive Orthopedics offer expert safety guidelines for adults and families to follow while undertaking any project this fall. Patients in need of specialized bone, joint and muscle care are encouraged to call (800) 896-7326 to schedule a safe appointment in Bordentown, Cherry Hill, Medford, Moorestown, Pitman, Sewell, Vineland or Voorhees. Telemedicine appointments are also available. Additionally, OrthoExpress orthopedic urgent care is open and accepting walk-ins in Medford at 131 Route 70, Suite 100, and in Pitman at 614 Lambs Road, Suite C.
The doctors of ReconHand at Reconstructive Orthopedics work together to provide patients with exceptional, specialized hand, wrist and elbow care. Their specialists, Dr. Joseph Dwyer, Dr. Brian George, Dr. John Jennings and Dr. William Smith, are all fellowship-trained with extensive focus and experience in the latest, evidence-based treatment.
“Every year, there are multitudes of minor and serious hand, wrist, shoulder and elbow injuries from home improvement projects and even crafts — this year, the risk may be higher with more people taking on projects while they spend more time at home during COVID-19,” says Dr. Smith. “From roof repair and landscaping to do-it-yourself home décor, fall projects can be fun and rewarding to accomplish, but they also come with some safety risks, so my colleagues and I wanted to share a list of guidelines for completing projects safely.”
Follow these safety tips to help avoid injuries when taking on a project:
- Use the right tools — the right way: Ensure you have the proper tools for your project and know how to use them safely. Even hammering improperly can mean broken fingers. Additionally, deep cuts and even nerve injuries are common with scissors, craft knives and other small tools. Keep sharp objects away from children.
- Pay total attention to power tools: From drills and saws to sewing machines, lawn mowers and weed whackers, be sure you know exactly how to operate a machine before you use it. To avoid a variety of traumatic orthopedic injuries, make sure your machine is stable and holding your complete focus, and do not put your hand or arm near drill bits, moving blades or needles before a machine is turned completely off.
- Dress for the job: Safely using equipment means wearing the right equipment, so be sure to have on eye protection, a dust mask, gloves and proper attire as needed (no dangling jewelry, loose sleeves or baggy clothes that may trip you or get caught). If you have long hair, wear it up and out of the way. Shorts, bare feet and sandals are also ill-advised for most tasks, so be careful with leg- and footwear.
- Keep your space clean: Make sure you do your work in a well-lit, clean and dry area with stable surfaces. You should also place any tool not being used in a safe location to help you avoid tripping injuries, like bruises, strains and wrist and ankle sprains.
- Ladders are no laughing matter: To avoid fall-related injuries, such as fractures, shoulder or elbow dislocations, rotator cuff tears or more severe injuries, be sure to place ladders on a flat surface. Keep the weight centered and do not overextend to reach any item. Also, make sure someone is holding the ladder.
- Take a break when you need one: Taking breaks and varying your tasks can help prevent acute injuries, such as strains in your back, forearm and upper arm muscles, as well as chronic injuries, such as shoulder tendinitis or elbow conditions, like cubital tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow. Listen to your body, especially if heavy lifting is involved.
"If you sustain an injury while working with tools or doing heavy lifting and you feel any numbness, pain or have loss of movement in your arm or other extremities, seek medical attention," says Dr. Dwyer. “Serious injuries should be seen by a specialist as soon as possible.”
To learn more about orthopedic safety or to schedule a safe appointment with one of the fellowship-trained hand surgeons at Reconstructive Orthopedics, call (800) 896-7326 or request an appointment online.