Rainer’s Story: Surgery Reconstructed His Crushed Hand

It's hard to imagine being an avid tennis player and suddenly having your racquet arm crushed by a huge metal machine. The first thought is that you'll never play again. For Rainer Bohl, the real problem was whether he would ever move that hand again.

Rainer worked in a stamping plant where a machine pressed two heavy plates together to die-cut paper. The process is simple: The operator feeds paper in with the right hand and removes it with the left. All was fine until a piece of paper stuck. This threw off Rainer's rhythm, and his hand was still between the plates when they slammed together, crushing his hand inside the 50-ton press. His fingers were shattered, and there was a lot of soft tissue damage to the hand as well.

Hand and reconstructive surgeon Christopher Danis of Hand and Reconstructive Surgeons & Associates performed three operations on Rainer. The first took four hours and set the bones back into place. This left Rainer's hand in a cast for six weeks while the bones healed. Intensive therapy with a certified hand therapist followed. He received heat treatment, massage, and exercise that was very painful. After this he was able to go back to work, but without the use of his hand. Ironically, his new job was instructing others on the safe use of the machine that had crushed his hand. 

A year later he had a second surgery to loosen ligaments that had tightened in his fingers and to have a plate put in his pinky finger to give it more strength. More therapy followed that was designed to prevent scar tissue from forming, which would restrict movement in the area.

The third surgery followed a year later. This was to help straighten his ring finger. Among the professionals, it had been questioned if Rainer would ever move his hand again. But the recovery amazed everyone. He is back to his old job on a new machine that has safeties to guard against injuries like his. And with some slight modification to his racquet to aid his grip, Rainer is on the tennis court again.

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