Background: Treadmills have become relatively common in American homes. This machine can be dangerous for children because they can sustain friction burns to the hands when the moving treadmill is touched. With aggressive wound care and physical therapy, most of these burns will heal without surgery. However, some patients will require reconstructive surgery to release contractures. We report our experience with a series of patients who suffered friction burns to the hand from contact with a moving treadmill. The purpose of this study is to further understand the incidence and outcomes of this type of injury.
Methods: A retrospective chart review of all patients referred between September 2002 and June 2005 to our hand surgery clinic for treadmill friction burns on the hand(s) was conducted. Pertinent data collected included sex, age, injury distribution, and surgeries performed. An analysis of data maintained by the Consumer Product Safety Commission was used to understand the incidence of exercise equipment-induced injuries.
Results: Thirteen pediatric patients were evaluated for friction burns on the hand. Their total injuries included 24 fingers, 1 hand, and 1 forearm. Three patients (23%) required surgery for release of flexion contractures. All wounds of the remaining 10 patients healed, and with the implementation of hand therapy programs did not require subsequent surgery.
Conclusions: Treadmill friction burns to the hands of children can lead to limitations of the motion of the hand. Because this problem is completely preventable, parents and treadmill manufacturers are encouraged to be proactive in preventing these injuries. In addition, prompt initiation of wound care and hand therapy is integral to a favorable outcome.