Landing In the Right Hands
Bill Howard Patient Story

Landing In the Right Hands

    Thursday, October 8, 2020


Hand Surgeon Helps Local Man Enjoy Hobby

In June 2020, about 11:30 p.m., 68-year-old Bill Howard was in his basement working on his remote-control airplane.

"I accidentally bumped the switch that turns on the motor. That instantly turned on the propeller - which cut my finger," explained Bill. "I've cut myself lots of times before, but when I looked at this, I knew something wasn't right."

Another concern was the fact that Bill was on a blood-thinning medication. This meant there was more bleeding than normal, since blood thinners are designed to stop blood from clotting.

Wisely, Bill went to the Genesis Emergency Department (ED) right away. The ED team closed the wound with several stitches but arranged for Bill to meet the next day with Genesis orthopedic hand surgeon Clayton Gibson, M.D., fellowship-trained for the specialized care Bill needed

Tendon Repair Recommended

Having a knowledgeable, experienced specialist recommend the best treatment option for a hand injury is important and can make a big difference in a patient’s outcome.

Dr. Gibson is fellowship-trained and board-certified in general orthopedics as well as surgery of the hand. For decades Dr. Gibson has helped thousands of patients with hand-specific conditions and pain.

At his office, closer examination of Bill’s injured left index finger revealed that some bone had been chipped. There were also cuts through portions of his extensor tendon, which is a cord-like structure that connects muscle to bone and runs along the back of the hand.

Dr. Gibson determined that surgery would be needed to bring back normal range of motion and function to the tendon, specifically a surgical procedure called tendon repair.

“We use surgery as infrequently as possible and always consider nonsurgical options first,” said Dr. Gibson. “However, in this case, it was pretty clear that surgery was needed.”

Dr. Gibson performed the tendon repair procedure for Bill. After the procedure, Bill went home wearing a small splint.

Better Every Day

Several weeks later, Bill began therapy with Genesis Rehabilitation Services therapists to help ensure the injury would heal properly. Genesis has a certified hand therapist, one of only a few in the southeast Ohio region. “I stay in touch with the therapists about patients’ rehabilitation, and I find it is helpful for everyone,” Dr. Gibson said.

The hand therapist, physician assistant and other Rehabilitation Services team members help patients like Bill reestablish range of motion and increase strength by performing certain movements and exercises.

“I was going in for rehab more often at first, but now I’m down to every other week,” said Bill. “They give me diagrams of exercises to do at home, too.”

Ready for Takeoff

During the day, Bill has been able to return to his part-time job as a driver for a senior living facility, transporting residents to and from medical and other appointments. Bill is also pleased knowing his injury won’t prevent him from to returning to his hobby. Since 1994, he’s enjoyed working on and flying remote-control airplanes.

“I’m a member of ZARKS – the Zanesville Area Remote Kontrol Society. We fly nearly every weekend, except in the winter, and have our own field. I went out yesterday with my 14-year-old grandson,” Bill said.

Coincidentally, Dr. Gibson also enjoys flying remote control planes – and admits his own finger has gotten stuck in a propeller before, although he was not injured like Bill.

“Just a momentary distraction can cause a hand injury,” said Dr. Gibson. “Never take the guards off when working with equipment. We also see a lot of hand and finger injuries that happen in the kitchen, like when someone tries to separate frozen hamburger patties using a sharp knife. Prevention and paying attention to all the safety guidelines are key to avoiding hand injuries.”