Power lawnmowers can pose significant danger of injury to both the operator and the bystander, from direct contact with the rotary blades or missile injury. Our objective was to review our experience with paediatric lawnmower-associated trauma, and the safety recommendations available to operators of power lawnmowers.
The patient cohort comprised paediatric (<16 years of age) patients treated for lawnmower-associated trauma, by the plastic surgery service, between 1996 and 2003. These patients were identified retrospectively. Age at the time of injury, location and extent of bony and soft tissue injuries sustained, treatment instituted and clinical outcome were recorded. Brochures and instruction manuals of six lawnmower manufacturers were reviewed, and safety recommendations noted.
Fifteen patients were identified. The majority of injuries occurred from direct contact with the rotary blades (93%); the remaining child sustained a burn injury. Fourteen children (93%) required operative intervention. Seven patients (46%) sustained injuries resulting in amputation, two of whom had major limb amputations. All children, except the burns patient, underwent wound debridement and received antibiotic therapy. Reconstructive methods ranged from primary closure to free tissue transfer. Many patients required multiple procedures. In all instruction manuals, instructions to keep children and pets indoors or out of the yard when mowing were found.
Lawnmower injuries can be devastating, particularly in children. Many victims have lasting deformities as a result of their injuries. Awareness of and stringent adherence to safety precautions during use of power lawnmowers can prevent many of these accidents.