St. Louis, MO (August 8, 2023) Every year, more than 9,000 children go to the emergency room for lawn mower-related injuries in the United States. During the summer months, Shriners Children’s St. Louis patients and staff are educating the public on lawn mower safety and the resources the hospital system can provide after an accident.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, children should be at least 12 years old before operating a push mower, and 16 years old before using a riding lawn mower. Both push and riding lawn mowers are powerful machines that can cause life-threatening injuries.
Darren Rottmann, Manager of Pediatric Orthotics and Prosthetic Services (POPS) at Shriners Children’s St. Louis said they most often see patients that slip or fall in the yard while someone else is mowing. Other instances involve a child sitting on an adult’s lap on a riding mower and then falling off.
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“I think because lawn mowers are so common, people forget how dangerous they can be,” said Rottmann. “I advise families to teach their children that they aren’t toys. Children should never ride on lawn mowers with adults, even when the blades are off, as they may not know when it’s safe to approach. Parents also have to use their best judgment on whether their child is mature and capable enough to operate a mower independently. Even with safety measures, sometimes accidents happen, and that’s why we’re here to help.”
Lawn mower injuries commonly affect a child’s hands and fingers or feet and toes. Injury can range from cuts and soft tissue injuries to fractures, burns and even amputations.
Rottmann knows firsthand how serious lawn mower accidents can be. He became a Shriners Children’s patient when he was 3 years old. Rottmann was in an accident involving a riding lawn mower that required a mid-calf amputation. His experience as a patient inspired him to enter the field of pediatric orthotics and prosthetics as a technician and eventually become the St. Louis POPS Manager. POPS helps design, fit and manufacture prosthetics and orthotics for children of all ages.
“Because of my accident and the fact that families can clearly see that I not only make prosthetics but have one myself, I think it helps put their minds at ease,” said Rottmann. “I’m able to relate to the patients and it helps parents see that an accident doesn’t mean their child’s life is over. It might look different than they imagined but their children can still live a full life.”
Now, Rottmann dedicates his life to helping create unique prosthetics for Shiners Children’s patients, like 19-year-old Mollie, who also experienced a mowing accident when she was two years old. After a foot and ankle amputation, Mollie became a regular patient at POPS.
“Shriners is such a great place and the staff has taught me so much,” said Mollie. “I’m especially thankful for the staff at POPS. They’ve been able to provide custom legs for me. One of my legs didn’t have a slit in my toe for sandals, and Darren went out of his way to provide that. They’ve given me and my family a lot of strength and countless resources.”
Below are some child safety guidelines Shriners Children’s recommends people follow around lawn mowers:
Lawn Mower Safety Check List
· Children should be at least 12 years old before operating a push mower and at least 16 years old to drive a riding mower.
· Clean up the yard before moving and remove all rocks, toys, sticks or other hazards.
· Keep children inside or at a safe distance from the mower while it is running
· Wear long pants, gloves, goggles and closed-toe shoes when mowing
· Never allow a child to ride on a lawnmower as a passenger
· Don’t let your child mow the yard alone until you are confident they understand the rules
· Don’t let your child touch a mower after use – they can be very hot!
· In an emergency: call 911
About Shriners Children’s
Shriners Children’s improves the lives of children by providing pediatric specialty care, conducting innovative research, and offering outstanding education programs for medical professionals. Children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate are eligible for care, regardless of the families’ ability to pay, and receive all care and services in a compassionate, family-centered environment. For more information, please visit www.shrinerschildrens.org.
Cutline: Shriners Children’s Helping Kids Stay Safe Near Lawn Mowers.
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