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Myth Busters: Trigger Finger Biggest Threat for OH Hunters?

November 29, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Deer gun season opens today in the Buckeye State and runs for a week. While some may think accidental gunshot wounds are the biggest threat for hunters, researchers at The Ohio State University Medical Center say that isn't the case. Their new study finds that falls from tree stands account for a significant proportion of hunting-related injuries, debunking a long-standing belief that "trigger finger" is the cause of most such injuries.

Trauma surgeon Dr. Charles Cook is lead author of the study.

"You're more likely to fall out of your tree stand then you are to get shot by your buddy when you go deer hunting this season, and if hunters can keep that in mind I think that they maybe can make their recreation a little safer."

Dr. Cook says with the typical tree stand placed 10 to 30 feet up, the risk of severe injury in a fall is quite high. He says victims suffer injuries ranging from fractures to head injuries or even worse.

"Over the past 10 years we've seen close to a half-dozen people who have had back injuries and have been paralyzed permanently. We've also see people who have internal organ injuries that occasionally need operation."

Dr. Cook says very often hunters go out into the woods in the early morning hours and no one knows where they are. It's critical to tell someone your plans and have a cell phone or two-way radio in case of an emergency.

"We have seen a number of hunters who have fallen and then lay there incapacitated and exposed to the elements for hours on end, sometimes even overnight."

Dr. Cook says it's important to note that alcohol or drug use was involved in very few cases. He says hunters should educate themselves on the proper use of tree stands and use a harness or other safety device.

The study in the journal The American Surgeon is available at bit.ly/eynJR9

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH