Make your home page

Local orthopedic surgeon describes risk of firework blast injuries

Understanding common firework injuries

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Dr. Rashad Usmani is an orthopedic hand surgeon at OrthoIndy’s Westfield location. In his role, he’s seen some of the worst blast injuries as a result of Fourth of July firework accidents.

“I had a teenage child who was trying to basically hold a firecracker and set it down, it went off preemptively and caused a significant blast injury to his hand,” Usmani said. “He, unfortunately, ended up losing three fingers.”

The accident is just one example of the possible blast injuries that could impact the hands and fingers if people are not careful.

Nearly 10,000 Americans were injured last holiday as a result of firework injuries, and nearly a third of those injuries involved hands and fingers.

Some of those injuries came after a firework burn, but many more are described as “blast” injuries.

“When things go wrong, the amount of power a firework can generate can be catastrophic for your hand,” Usmani said.

A blast injury is described as a “a complex type of physical trauma resulting from direct or indirect exposure to an explosion,” according to the Department of Defense. The injury commonly results in long-lasting damage.

According to Usmani, the injuries are common but almost entirely avoidable.

Typically a blast injury begins when a firework is set, does not go off, and someone goes to adjust it while it implodes. The largest concern in the case of a blast injury is the tissue destruction that comes as a result.

“Blast injuries are much harder to recover from,” Usmani said. “The soft tissues are generally pretty disrupted and it’s very difficult to put things back together. So a lot of the time you are just debriding away unhealthy tissue, bone, muscle, tendon.”

The injury is far more devastating than a cut or a laceration and limits reconstruction options.

If a blast injury does occur, Usmani recommends those impacted get to the hospital as fast as possible in an effort to preserve any tissue possible and also to avoid infection.