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Hockey injuries highlight the vulnerability of our hands

hockeyBrendan Gallagher of the Montreal Canadiens recently suffered a serious fracture in his left hand after getting hit by a shot from a teammate. Gallagher had to undergo surgery and is expected to be out of commission for at least a couple of months.

It’s not the first time he’s had to miss games and practice because of a hand injury. Last season, he sustained broken fingers while blocking a shot.

The vulnerability of our hands

While it’s true that injuries sustained from a¬†high-speed puck aren’t typically seen outside of hockey games, hands are vulnerable in all kinds of situations.

Other sports pose a risk to the fingers and other parts of the hand. Basketball, volleyball, baseball, and skiing, for example, can lead to injuries such as “mallet finger” (damage to a finger’s extensor tendon) and “gamekeeper’s thumb” (a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in the thumb). Even sports like soccer, which don’t typically involve the hands, can lead to serious injuries, especially for people playing in the goalie position.

Outside of sports, our hands also risk various injuries. For example, when we slip and lose our balance, it’s natural for us to stick our hands out to try to break our fall. In the kitchen, a moment’s fatigue or inattention can lead us to slice our hand open with a knife or burn it on a hot pan. Hand injuries can also result from occupational accidents or repetitive stress, whether it’s typing for long hours on a keyboard or suffering either an acute or repetitive stress injury from a power tool.

What treatment will you undergo?

The treatment for a given hand injury depends on the nature of the injury and its severity. The hand is made up of over two dozen bones, and beyond those, there are ligaments, tendons, muscles, cartilage, nerves, and blood vessels susceptible to injury. Often, a combination of tissues will sustain damage.

Sometimes, as in Brendan Gallagher’s case, surgery is necessary and can call for weeks or even months of rest and recuperation. Other times, an injury will require simple rest and perhaps application of ice. Whatever the case may be, it’s critical to seek medical attention and not to leave a hand injury neglected. The long-term consequences can prove disabling.