The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Summer Safety: Preventing Lawnmower Foot Injuries among Children

Posted by on Monday, June 2nd, 2014


Summer is here, which means that the kids everywhere will be spending much more time around the house and involved with summer activities. It’s important to make sure that they stay safe. On May 1, six-year-old Izzy Smith was out looking for flowers in her grandfather’s garden. John Williams thought Izzy and her 1-year-old brother were inside the house with their grandmother while he mowed across the creek. He was backing up near a tree when the accident occurred. As with all lawnmower accidents, the scene was grisly. The riding mower ripped through the bones and muscle in her leg, leaving doctors wondering if they could salvage the limb.

Thinking fast, Mr. Williams used his belt as a tourniquet and called 911 to have his granddaughter airlifted to the University of Kansas Hospital. A rare surgery called a “rotationplasty” was done, which rotated her foot backward, attached the shin to her thigh, and put the ankle in the knee joint spot. “You get to keep and use as much of the real leg as possible,” orthopedic surgeon Kim Templeton explained. “It takes less energy to get used to and allows someone to be more active and functional.” In eight weeks, she will be fitted with a prosthetic lower leg. While it sounds like confusing anatomy, Izzy is expected to walk again.

A rotationplasty is a rare and strange surgery, but allows injured victims a better opportunity for future mobility.

Here at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in New York City, we are fully equipped to handle emergencies involving lawnmower foot injuries. Our experienced podiatric surgeons are knowledgeable in the latest medical techniques used to salvage limbs, mitigate pain, and rehabilitate injured children.

Lawnmower Foot Injury Statistics

Lawnmower foot injuries are every parent’s worst nightmare. Consider these current facts:

– More than 9,000 children under age 18 are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for lawnmower injuries.

– 25% of these lawnmower injuries occur in children younger than five years of age.

– 75% of lawnmower injuries in children happen to little boys.

– An injury with a rotary mower is the equivalent of having a 21-pound object dropped on your foot from 100 feet up.

– Every year, there are roughly 75 deaths from lawnmower injuries, with 20% of these deaths occurring in children.

– Lawnmower injuries are one of the leading causes of traumatic amputations in children, with 650 performed each year.

lawnmower injuries
Lawnmower injuries are a fact of life, but not a “fun” fact.

How Do Lawnmower Injuries Occur?

Lawnmower injuries may include:

– Lacerations

– Broken bones

– Exposed tendons

– Burns

– Deep soft tissue wounds

Most of the time, the lawnmower is being operated by someone else and accidentally backs up over or runs over the child. In some cases, the child falls off a riding mower. In other instances, the child is playing nearby. Projectiles injure children in 17% of all lawnmower accidents, as these massive machines are able to throw an object up to 20 feet away at a speed of 200 mph.

preventing lawnmower injuries
Lawnmower safety means impressing upon children the importance of staying indoors while the mower is out. Supervision is crucial!

How to Prevent Lawnmower Injuries

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following guidelines for preventing lawnmower foot injuries:

– Forget having kids “ride on grandpa’s lap” while he mows as a rite of passage.

– No child under 16 years of age should be on a riding lawnmower — even as a passenger.

– No child under 12 years of age should be allowed to operate a walk-behind mower.

– Children should remain indoors while mowing is taking place.

– If children must be outdoors during mowing, make sure they are at least 20 feet away.

– Use a grab-bar push mower if possible.

– Wear sturdy shoes to avoid tripping accidents.

– Clear the lawn of debris like branches, nails, wires, and rocks that could be thrown by the mower.

– Avoid mowing in reverse and always stop to look for children before changing direction.

Treating Lawnmower Foot Injuries in New York

The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in New York City offers a team of experienced podiatric surgeons who can help children who have been injured in grisly accidents involving foot and ankle trauma. When injury occurs, many panicked parents simply head to the emergency room, but you receive a better level of care when working with your own podiatric surgeon. Rehabilitation therapy is also included at our center, so we’re in it for the long haul with you and your family. Contact us today!


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.