Angry and thinking about hitting something?

Stoudemire's bandage covers what may be a serious injury

By now, most Americans have heard about how Amar’e Stoudemire’s momentary lapse of judgement will likely put him out of the rest of the season. While it would be easy to wag our collective fingers at him, it is worth noting how common punching-related hand injuries are, and how serious Stoudemire’s injury may be.

First of all, injuries to the hand caused by using it to strike something are ridiculously common. Last week in the office I saw a total of 110 patients, including about 60 new patients. Of those 60 new patients, five patients had injured their hands by punching or hitting something. Four patients had fractures, and one patient had a laceration. All of these were avoidable injuries. One patient even required surgery. Fortunately, my patients’ injuries were not too severe, and they should fully recover.

Why does this happen so frequently? A closer look at the patients tells some of the story. The vast majority are young men who choose to express their frustration by punching an inanimate object, often a wall or door. When I ask why they chose to punch something, the point out that it was better than punching someone. And I suppose they have a point, as many of the people-punchers are handcuffed and wearing coordinated orange suits.

Still, why punch a wall or a door (or a fire extinguisher box)? Presumably, the drywall combatant is trying to do some damage to the wall without doing significant damage to himself. I think that this is reinforced by many depictions in movies and television of people punching people and things without fracturing their hands. Of course, these are stunt doubles. In reality, metacarpal bones will break. I have heard from hand surgeons in countries where interior walls are commonly made of brick, stone, or concrete block that wall punching injuries are much less common.

So how serious is Stoudemire’s injury? Hard to say, of course. The information released is vague and conflicting. The team has reported that he had a surgery to repair a cut muscle on his hand. The injury apparently affected the back of the hand, but there aren’t any muscles on the back of the hand. The most likely injury is a laceration to one of he tendons on the back of the hand that straighten the fingers. However, the team has said that “no tendons or nerves were cut.” In spite of that, I would bet that a tendon was cut, has been repaired, and Mr. Stoudemire will be out for several weeks. Time will tell.

More information is available from the New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/03/sports/basketball/knicks-stoudemire-says-hand-injury-was-an-accident.html

Leave a comment

Subscribe Scroll to Top