In what Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers call an unusually comprehensive analysis of nationwide data, they conclude that the rate of lawnmower injuries persists at close to 6,400 a year, most of them requiring surgery and hospitalization, and costing an average of $37,000 per patient.
A report of the study, tracking eight years of data between 2006 and 2013, was published in the Sept. issue of Public Health Reports.
“Despite consumer education programs and warning labels, lawnmower injuries in the United States remain a serious public health concern,” says Deborah Schwengel, M.D., assistant professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the study’s senior author. She is also associated with Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
Overall the new analysis showed that the most frequent injuries were to men (43,567 of 51,151, or 85.2 percent), and that children up to age 4 were six times more likely to have a foot/toe or lower extremity injury and 1.7 times more likely to have an amputation than those age 15 and above. Conversely, older teens and adults age 15 and above were 8.3 times more likely to have an injury to the hand or upper extremity. This, the researchers say, suggests that young children are more likely to get injured by running into the yard while a family member operates the lawnmower or by getting their foot trapped in the machine while sitting in the operating member’s lap, and that the majority of teens and adults sustain injuries from sticking their hands into the mower to clear debris.