Experts at the Curtis National Hand Center Urge Fireworks Safety

Ryan Zimmerman, MD

BALTIMORE—(June 25, 2018)—Hand and extremity experts at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital’s Curtis National Hand Center encourage a festive celebration of the nation’s birthday this year, but stress a safety reminder when handling fireworks. They don’t want your business.

Each year, Curtis National Hand Center surgeons start seeing devastating hand and finger injuries even before the Fourth of July parades and celebrations begin. Legal and illegal explosive devices cause traumatic injuries including permanent damage to nerves and tendons or even loss by amputation. The result could mean multiple innovative and complex surgeries to cover open wounds, reattached digits and hands, and reestablish a functioning limb.

“A few minutes of fun from even those little firecrackers can cause injuries that permanently alter your life,” said Ryan Zimmerman, MD, attending hand surgeon at The Curtis National Hand Center. “We can reattach fingers that are intact, but sometimes the damage is so great, that there’s nothing to work with.” And often times he added, “it is the dominant hand that is affected.”

Four people died in 2016 due to recreational fireworks injuries, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Fireworks were involved in an estimated 11,100 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments, according to the CPSC. The hands and fingers were the body parts most often injured.

While adults aged 20-24 had the highest rate of fireworks injuries, children younger than age five were particularly susceptible, with the second-highest rate of injury from fireworks.

There is no such thing as completely safe fireworks. Even sparklers can burn up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to make lava.

“Our message is to leave fireworks to the professionals so that you can continue to enjoy the Fourth of July year after year,” Dr. Zimmerman said.

The Curtis National Hand Center experts offer these important safety tips:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize that young children can suffer injuries from sparklers.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishaps.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

Click here to learn more about The Curtis National Hand Center, or call 877-UMH-HAND for a physician referral.

About The Curtis National Hand Center

Since 1975, people all over the world have placed their hands in ours—The Curtis National Hand Center. From repairing traumatic injuries to treating repetitive motion injuries, arthritic conditions and congenital differences, our goal is to restore the patient's use of the hand, wrist, arm, elbow, and shoulder to the greatest degree possible. Our long history of experience, outstanding medical staff, and state-of-the-art facilities combine to create a treatment center that is the first choice in caring for the hand or arm, no matter how common or complex.

Today, The Curtis National Hand Center is recognized as the largest, most experienced hand center in the nation. In fact, the hand center was designated by Congress as the National Center for the Treatment of the Hand and Upper Extremity.

About MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit, 223-bed acute care teaching hospital with a strong emphasis on cardiac care, orthopaedics, and sports medicine. With roots stemming back to 1854, MedStar Union Memorial has provided high-quality care for 160 years. As one of the region's top specialty hospitals, MedStar Union Memorial is home to: The Curtis National Hand Center, the largest hand center in the world, focused on the treatment of the hand and upper extremities; MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute, a premier cardiovascular program in the mid-Atlantic, aligned with Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute, the nation’s #1 heart program; and MedStar Sports Medicine, which includes the oldest hospital-based sports medicine program in Maryland (founded in 1979).  In addition, MedStar Union Memorial offers a comprehensive range of inpatient and outpatient services including oncology, diabetes and endocrinology, general surgery, thoracic surgery, vascular surgery and palliative care.

MedStar Union Memorial is accredited by The Joint Commission (TJC). It is the first hospital in Baltimore to receive spine certification by TJC, and the first in the state of Maryland to receive advanced certification for palliative care. MedStar Union Memorial is also TJC-certified in hip and knee replacement and has been designated as a Primary Stroke Center and the Hand Trauma Center for Maryland.

MedStar Union Memorial is a proud member of MedStar Health, a non-profit, regional health care system with 10 hospitals and more than 20 other health-related services in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., area.

For more information, visit MedStarUnionMemorial.org.

Debra Schindler
Regional Director, Media & Public Relations, MedStar Health Baltimore
410-274-1260
[email protected]


Carrie Wells
Media Relations Specialist, MedStar Health Baltimore
443-613-1569
[email protected]

Curtis National Hand Center Performs First-of-its Kind Surgery in the U.S.

Seven-Year old Gains Hand and Arm Function with Limb Lengthening Technique Using Toe Bone

Ryan Katz, MD with Lal Ding
Ryan Katz, MD with Lal Ding

Baltimore — (December 21, 2016) — With a complex microsurgery that has never before been performed in the United States, surgeons Ryan Katz, MD, and James Higgins MD, from the Curtis National Hand Center (CNHC) at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital have advanced the treatment of congenital radial dysplasia, known as “radial club hand.” The groundbreaking approach uses bones, a joint, and growth plates from the patient's foot. The boy, Lal Ding, who will turn eight on New Year’s Day, now stands on the threshold of his new life with a functioning right arm and hand.

As in most cases of radial club hand, Lal was born without a thumb, a significantly shortened forearm, and a hand that was bent dramatically toward the thumb-side of his wrist. Traditionally, this problem would have been treated by surgically centralizing the hand on the wrist and fixing it in a straighter position.  Though such a classic approach temporarily improves the overall hand aesthetic, it does not improve function, it impairs future forearm growth, and does not stand the test of time – often resulting in deformity recurrence.

Helping Lal achieve the best functional and aesthetic result was a three-stage process that began with a pollicization procedure that had successfully repositioned his index finger to serve as a thumb. The next step involved using a distraction device to extend the length of the forearm, straighten the wrist and create a space in which the joint and growth plates from the child’s second toe can be transplanted.

In September, Simo Vilkke, MD, a Finnish microsurgeon and architect of the new technique, travelled to Baltimore to collaborate with the CNHC surgical team for the third and most complex stage – the toe transfer.  At that time, the child’s second toe with its vascular supply, was removed and transferred to the arm to definitively straighten the wrist and provide new growth plates and a joint to allow for balanced longitudinal growth and wrist motion.  This case is unique in that the vascularized toe was used to construct a full length radius - restoring for the child a two-bone forearm.

Lal’s arm has gained nearly two inches in length; is now straighter, balanced, healed and growing as he grows. This New Year’s Day, as Lal celebrates his birthday, he and his family can look forward to a future bright with new potential, opportunity, and hope. 

For more information on the Curtis National Hand Center or the MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, please visit medstarunionmemorial.org.

About The Curtis National Hand Center

Since 1975, people all over the world have placed their hands in ours – The Curtis National Hand Center. From repairing traumatic injuries to treating repetitive motion injuries, arthritic conditions and congenital differences, our goal is to restore the patient's use of the hand, wrist, arm, elbow and shoulder to the greatest degree possible. Our long history of experience, outstanding medical staff, and state-of-the-art facilities combine to create a treatment center that is the first choice in caring for the hand or arm, no matter how common or complex.

Today, The Curtis National Hand Center is recognized as the largest, most experienced hand center in the nation. In fact, the hand center was designated by Congress as the National Center for the Treatment of the Hand and Upper Extremity.

About MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit, 223-bed acute care teaching hospital with a strong emphasis on cardiac care, orthopaedics and sports medicine. With roots stemming back to 1854, MedStar Union Memorial has provided high quality care for 160 years. As one of the region's top specialty hospitals, MedStar Union Memorial is home to: The Curtis National Hand Center, the only hand center designated by Congress as The National Center for the Treatment of Hand and Upper Extremity; MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute, a premier cardiovascular program in the mid-Atlantic, aligned with Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute, the nation’s #1 heart program; and MedStar Union Memorial Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, the oldest hospital based Sports Medicine Program in Maryland (founded in 1979).  In addition, MedStar Union Memorial offers a comprehensive range of inpatient and outpatient services including oncology, diabetes and endocrinology, general surgery, thoracic surgery, vascular surgery and palliative care.

MedStar Union Memorial is accredited by The Joint Commission (TJC). It is the first hospital in Baltimore to receive spine certification by TJC, and the first in the state of Maryland to receive advanced certification for palliative care. MedStar Union Memorial is also TJC-certified in hip and knee replacement and CARF-accredited in Curtis Work Rehabilitation Services, and has been designated as a Primary Stroke Center and the Hand Trauma Center for Maryland.

MedStar Union Memorial is a proud member of MedStar Health, a non-profit, regional health care system with 10 hospitals and more than 20 other health-related services in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., area.

For more information, visit MedStarUnionMemorial.org.

Debra Schindler
Phone: 410-274-1260
Email: [email protected]

Raymond Wittstadt, MD Achieves Certificate for Performing Arts Medicine

BALTIMORE — (December 20, 2016) —Dr. Raymond Wittstadt, attending hand surgeon at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital’s Curtis National Hand Center, is the first practicing physician in Maryland to hold a credentialing certificate in performing arts medicine from the Performing Arts Medicine Association and the American College of Sports Medicine. Dr. Wittstadt received the certification at Cornell Weill University in July. It’s the first time in the 40-year history of the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA), that the organization has offered a certificate of expertise in the field of performing arts medicine.

Founded in 1989, PAMA is an organization comprised of dedicated medical professionals, artists, educators, and administrators from all over the globe, whose common goal is to improve the health care of the performing artist.

“Physicians were able to claim PAMA membership,” Dr. Wittstadt said, “but there was never any formal training in performing arts medicine. This certification makes me even more proud of the hard work we do here at MedStar Union Memorial and the Curtis National Hand Center, and it helps the patients understand how dedicated we are to treat and care for them.”

Musicians are known as small muscle athletes, because much like sports players, who are known as large muscle athletes, musicians practice for extraordinary hours each day, year round. Overuse injuries are common among them and they too are “sidelined” with instrument specific tendon, nerve and muscle damage.

 Performing arts physicians and therapists evaluate physical fitness, posture, hand and arm positions, tension on strings and other factors, to teach techniques that will deter injuries. The specific needs of an instrumentalist may dictate potential risks, as well as corrective therapy and surgery, if needed.

For more than 15 years, Dr. Wittstadt, along with physical therapist and certified hand therapist Lauren Valdata, and Karen Guertler, an Alexander Technique therapist, has treated hundreds of patients who attend a monthly musicians’ clinic at the Curtis National Hand Center. Patients include young, old, amateur and professional musicians. Dr. Wittstadt has been the go-to professional for several Baltimore Symphony Orchestra musicians.

Maryland is currently the only state MEDCHI (Maryland State Medical Society) with a performing arts medicine committee.

For more information on the Curtis National Hand Center or the MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, please visit medstarunionmemorial.org.

 

About The Curtis National Hand Center

Since 1975, people all over the world have placed their hands in ours – The Curtis National Hand Center. From repairing traumatic injuries to treating repetitive motion injuries, arthritic conditions and congenital differences, our goal is to restore the patient's use of the hand, wrist, arm, elbow and shoulder to the greatest degree possible. Our long history of experience, outstanding medical staff, and state-of-the-art facilities combine to create a treatment center that is the first choice in caring for the hand or arm, no matter how common or complex.

Today, The Curtis National Hand Center is recognized as the largest, most experienced hand center in the nation. In fact, the hand center was designated by Congress as the National Center for the Treatment of the Hand and Upper Extremity.

 

About MedStar Union Memorial Hospital


MedStar Union Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit, 223-bed acute care teaching hospital with a strong emphasis on cardiac care, orthopaedics and sports medicine. With roots stemming back to 1854, MedStar Union Memorial has provided high-quality care for 160 years. As one of the region's top specialty hospitals, MedStar Union Memorial is home to: The Curtis National Hand Center, the only hand center designated by Congress as The National Center for the Treatment of Hand and Upper Extremity; MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute, a premier cardiovascular program in the mid-Atlantic, aligned with Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute, the nation’s #1 heart program; and MedStar Union Memorial Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, the oldest hospital-based Sports Medicine Program in Maryland (founded in 1979).  In addition, MedStar Union Memorial offers a comprehensive range of inpatient and outpatient services including oncology, diabetes and endocrinology, general surgery, thoracic surgery, vascular surgery and palliative care.

MedStar Union Memorial is accredited by The Joint Commission (TJC). It is the first hospital in Baltimore to receive spine certification by TJC, and the first in the state of Maryland to receive advanced certification for palliative care. MedStar Union Memorial is also TJC-certified in hip and knee replacement and CARF-accredited in Curtis Work Rehabilitation Services, and has been designated as a Primary Stroke Center and the Hand Trauma Center for Maryland.

MedStar Union Memorial is a proud member of MedStar Health, a non-profit, regional health care system with 10 hospitals and more than 20 other health-related services in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., area.

For more information, visit MedStarUnionMemorial.org.

Media Contact:

Debra Schindler
Phone: 410-274-1260
Email: [email protected]

New Advanced Microsurgery Saves Wrist Function for Patients with Kienbock’s Disease Curtis National’s James Higgins, MD, Becomes First US Doctor to Perform Surgery

BALTIMORE—(July 1, 2016) — In a novel surgery not available anywhere else in the United States, Dr. James Higgins, chief of the Curtis National Hand Center at Baltimore’s MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, used a microscopic technique to transplant bone, cartilage and blood vessels into the wrist of a patient with Kienbock’s disease.  The extremely painful and debilitating condition, for which there is no known cause, typically affects young male patients in the teenage years or twenties.  If left untreated, the wrist develops progressive arthritis and loss of function, even at this young age. 

Keinbock’s disease and can happen to anyone.  For no clear reason, the lunate, one of eight small bones in the wrist, loses blood supply, (avascular necrosis) and the bone collapses.  Crumbled bone fragments wear down cartilage and cause chronic pain. 

higgins microsurgeryIn the 5-hour surgery, Dr. Higgins and his specialized team, removed a precisely-shaped segment of cartilage, bone and tiny sub-millimeter blood vessels from the knee joint, and transferred it to the wrist to replace the deteriorated lunate bone. The transplanted piece is meticulously reperfused with blood when Dr Higgins connected the minute arteries and veins from the knee tissue to blood vessels in the wrist with the use of a microscope. 

"It is an exciting new threshold for reconstructive surgery.  I am proud that our center is being a part of this pioneering work," said Dr. Higgins.

 The 27-year old patient from Baltimore, a real estate business man, could alternatively have had the surgery in Austria, where the only other hand surgeon in the world has used this technique successfully.  He has made a full recovery.

The patient is available for interviews. 

To learn more about The Curtis National Hand Center, click here.

About The Curtis National Hand Center
Since 1975, people all over the world have placed their hands in ours – The Curtis National Hand Center. From repairing traumatic injuries to treating repetitive motion injuries, arthritic conditions and congenital differences, our goal is to restore the patient's use of the hand, wrist, arm, elbow and shoulder to the greatest degree possible. Our long history of experience, outstanding medical staff, and state-of-the-art facilities combine to create a treatment center that is the first choice in caring for the hand or arm, no matter how common or complex.

Today, The Curtis National Hand Center is recognized as the largest, most experienced hand center in the nation. In fact, the hand center was designated by Congress as the National Center for the Treatment of the Hand and Upper Extremity.

About MedStar Union Memorial Hospital
MedStar Union Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit, 249-bed acute care teaching hospital with a strong emphasis on cardiac care, orthopaedics and sports medicine. As one of the region's top specialty hospitals, MedStar Union Memorial has been caring for members of the community for more than 160 years.

We are renowned for The Curtis National Hand Center, Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Heart Institute, and our Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine program. In addition, we offer a comprehensive range of inpatient and outpatient services including diabetes and endocrinology, eye surgery, general surgery, oncology, thoracic surgery, vascular surgery and palliative care.

 

Media Contact:

Debra Schindler
Phone: 410-274-1260
Email: [email protected]