Mechanical Cornpicker Hand Injuries

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The mechanical cornpicker causes tearing and crushing hand injuries. Fifty-one patients treated at Mayo Clinic for these injuries from 1962 to 1975 were studied with regard to mechanism and extent of injury, treatment methods, and long-term results. Some amputation occurred at the time of injury in 36% of hands, and in 73% of the remainder following treatment. Initial treatment in nearly all cases consisted of debridement, tetanus prophylaxis, and antibiotics, and 73% of hands required some form of delayed surgical treatment.Antibiotics did not appear to be helpful. Eighty-nine per cent of injuries occurred in October and November. Carelessness was the most common cause given by farmers for their injuries. Excluding four permanently disabled patients, the average length of disability was 135 days. Eighty-nine per cent of patients experienced some permanent impairment of hand function. The mechanical cornpicker is described, and the importance of its proper use and physician's emphasis on accident prevention as well as treatment are stressed.

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