Farmers who are injured on the job require amputation 11 percent of the time, two and a half times more likely than in any other field. Although most of those amputations involve fingers or toes, those that don’t present a serious problem for farmers.
Findings by Northwestern University published in the journal Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology suggest that prostheses for hands, arms, legs and feet aren’t durable or adaptive enough for individuals who return to work on the farm. Options that are available are often times unaffordable.
A public statement released via EurekaAlert! sheds more light on the matter:
“There are lot of issues and challenges to farming with a prosthesis,” said Stefania Fatone, research associate professor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Feinberg and corresponding author of the study. “They often need to climb ladders and silos, lift bags of feed and seed and walk on uneven terrain, in all kinds of weather conditions. Also, a dairy farmer may have very different needs than a corn farmer or cattle rancher.”
In 2010, Amputee Coalition’s newsletter In Motion noted that 2,400 people in the agricultural field require amputations each year (that’s an awful lot):
Farmers who have suffered amputations from farm injuries say most often that getting in a hurry and not following safety rules cost them their limb. Adhering to strict safety precautions would greatly reduce the number of amputations among agricultural workers each year.
The Northwestern study findings go on to note that farmers who do receive prosthetics often have secondary injuries resulting from use of the prosthetic itself. Durability is another issue; with breakage resulting from weather, dirt, and extreme environments being among the most notable complaints.