Finger and Hand First Aid: What to do First
Each year, 30,000 children trap and seriously injure their fingers in doors both at home and in public places, such as schools and restaurants.
The vast majority of these 30,000 annual incidents are completely preventable when the right door finger protectors are implemented (such as the Fingershield), but in the unfortunate event that one of these distressing accidents does occur, it is important to know what steps to take to help the injured child as effectively and efficiently as possible.
We have spoken to a registered GP to find out the advice she would give to those faced with the challenge of finger and hand first aid.
When faced with a finger or hand injury sustained due to a door trapping, it can be difficult to tell at first glance whether a finger is broken, dislocated or just sprained, as the symptoms tend to be consistent – the injured area will be swollen and painful with limited or no movement.
Breaks and Fractures
Although in extreme cases the injury sustained can be severe enough to warrant amputation of the finger, for the most part, the most extreme case we will come across is a broken finger. In the worst examples, this can be easily identified as the broken bone pierces the skin or the finger will look visibly deformed and may also look bruised.
If you suspect that the finger is broken or dislocated, you should go to your nearest minor injuries unit (MIU) or accident and emergency (A&E) department.
Breaks and fractures are extremely painful so the injured area should be handled delicately, but it is important to note that if the bone protrudes the skin, then the injury should not be handled at all other than by a doctor in order to avoid the risk of sustaining any further damage.
On the way to an MIU or hospital, there are a couple of things that can be done to help, such as making a temporary splint using, for example, a washed lollypop stick or pen, and strapping the makeshift splint alongside the finger to stabilise it. Swelling and pain can also be reduced by applying ice wrapped in a tea towel to the injured area.
After the injury has been seen to by a doctor, most injuries will take around six weeks to fully repair. During this time it is important to keep the area as clean as possible and try not to strain the injury further through overuse of the hand. Only when the injury has healed should movement be encouraged in order to strengthen and regain use of the hurt finger.
Sprains and strains
It is always best to consult a professional, but if the injury is a sprain, movement of the finger will be possible (although painful) and the finger shouldn’t be visibly deformed.
In this case, it is best to again indirectly apply ice (wrapped in a cloth or tea towel) to help reduce the pain and swelling, as well as to avoid using the injured finger. If the pain and swelling does not subside over the next 24 hours, it would be best to visit a doctor.
Each incident is distressing, particularly when it happens to a child and it doesn’t have to be like this. So far, we have provided over 1 million Fingershield anti-finger trapping devices, protecting tens of thousands of fingers all over the world.
It’s our mission to ensure that the number of incidents involving trapped fingers in doors across the UK falls. With the average compensation claim for a finger trapped in a public door ranging from £3,250 to £7,000, it literally pays to have the appropriate finger guards in place, particularly as they cost from as little as £4.50 (Happy Hands finger protection product).