Liv S. was just expecting to spend a fun afternoon bonding with other families on her softball team when she popped into an ATV with her mom, stepmom, and brother, but that wasn’t what happened. Instead, a freak accident caused their vehicle to tip, and the teenager’s right hand was crushed so badly that she needed finger amputation surgery.
As a promising young athlete with dreams of playing at the college level, this absolutely devastating injury threatened to derail her future. But with the help of Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center’s specialists, unfailing support from her family, and her own fierce determination, Liv got back in the game.
This is her story.
Liv S.’s patient story
Hometown: Elwood, IN
Life Turned Upside Down
I was in Colorado for a travel softball tournament. We had the day free from scheduled games, so my assistant coach’s wife suggested we all go ATV-ing in the woods as a team bonding experience.
It was such a gloomy August day. My stepmom drove with my brother next to her in the front. My mom and I were in the back.
Since my family hadn’t been ATV-ing before, we were a little scared and just followed the ATV driven by my coach. There were big mud puddles everywhere. We got around the first one fine. The second time, when we had to make a turn in the mud around a huge tree, our ATV flipped.
Instinctually, as we tipped over, I held out my arm from the side door (there was no window). The impact of the ground completely crushed my right hand. I was holding a Hydro Flask, and it was covered with blood. I was the only one hurt.
Since my mom and I were seat-belted in the back, we couldn’t move. I used my left hand to unbuckle since my right hand was injured.
Rush to the Emergency Room
After seeing we had crashed and that I was hurt, one of the other softball dads stopped and helped me get out of the ATV. Another dad put his shirt around my hand, picked me up, and put me into another ATV. He drove my mom and me through the woods. We kept trying to get to somewhere with service to call 911.
Once we eventually got a signal, an ambulance met us at the edge of the road (near where we went into the park). The first team didn’t know what to do because my injury was severe, so they just re-wrapped my hand and called another ambulance team. They were the ones that transported my mom and me to the hospital.
I remember I kept asking them about my hand because my middle finger felt so weird. At first, I thought I had lost my finger, but they said I was okay. I knew it was serious, though, because they kept talking in whispered voices at the front of the ambulance with my mom.
Getting to the Hospital
Once we finally arrived at the hospital, I got a look at myself for the first time. I was completely covered in mud. It was even all over my face. The first thing they did was clean me up.
I couldn’t stand to look at my hand. It hurt so badly.
My teammates were calling to check on me and learn what had happened. Many rumors were going around among my friends about what was happening, so I wanted to clear them up.
That first local hospital I went to didn’t do any surgery. They only assessed my situation before determining I needed to go to another hospital in Denver that was 20 minutes away, and that’s where I had that initial finger crush injury surgery.
That first surgery was meant just to help stabilize me. They put pins in my hand. I was in the ICU for 11 days. My surgeon there in Denver told me that everything would be okay and I would be able to keep my finger, so I was hopeful. I didn’t know what was to come.
Expert Care From IHTSC’s Nerve Center
When I returned to Indiana (my grandpa had to drive me because I wasn’t allowed to fly), my parents got me in to see Dr. Sameer Puri at the Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center.
Dr. Puri didn’t know that the surgeon in Denver told us that my crushed finger would be okay, so when he mentioned that I needed to have it amputated, my mom started to cry.
He apologized immediately to both of us since he didn’t know the news would shock my mom because it was different from my initial diagnosis in Denver.
Five Surgeries and Lots of Therapy
I had five surgeries with Dr. Puri for my finger crush injury. After my finger amputation, the pain was the worst.
I remember struggling to sleep at night but was motivated to stay positive. I knew that a good attitude was essential for making progress.
They slowly unwrapped my hand when it was time to remove my stitches from that last surgery. And that’s when my mom started to cry … again. This time, though, she was crying tears of happiness.
My mom was so happy that Dr. Puri moved my index finger over to close the gap in my hand. He made it look as normal as possible with my middle finger gone.
I am so grateful for Dr. Puri. He knew my main goal was to get back to softball, and all of the surgeries he performed helped make that possible.
Home Run Attitude Helps With Healing
Elwood is about an hour from IHTSC. I was making that trip with my parents daily to get occupational therapy for my hand.
My IHTSC rehab team made the healing process fun for me. They’d come up with challenges perfect for me, like gripping something close to my softball bat size so I’d see how much progress I was making, even if that progress was slow.
I ordered some Play-Doh from Amazon to do squeezing exercises at home like they had me do in the therapy office. I wore custom splints the therapy team made for me that would pull my fingers down and help me regain my range of motion.
Everyone at IHTSC was a huge support system to me. Dr. Puri was always so good to me all the time.
My therapy team was also so caring. IHTSC became my safe space. In fact, by the end, I was actually looking forward to going to my therapy appointments.
Back on the Field
Slowly, my right hand started to feel better, and I began playing softball again. When I would come in for therapy appointments, Dr. Puri and the therapy team were always so happy to see my softball videos.
I did so well with my healing that I earned the title “Comeback Player of the Year” out of all the athletes in my county.
I’m excited about next year. I am going to Saint Mary of the Woods in Terre Haute on scholarship, and I think I will be playing second base.
I will always encourage everyone to go to IHTSC. And, if they have an accident like I did, I’d tell them that they should never take anything for granted, always try their best, and never ever give up.
Thank you, Dr. Puri.
Looking for Specialized Care After a Finger Crush Injury?
Not all patients require surgical procedures or occupational therapy after a traumatic injury. However, many patients—like Liv S.—benefit and heal with specialized care from experts in treating patients after traumatic injuries.
Each patient has different needs. If you need a second opinion about finger crush injury treatment, make an appointment with our experienced team of nerve pain specialists to get expert recommendations on what is best to help you heal.
Finger Amputation Treatment Experts
Since 1972, patients across Indiana and throughout the U.S. have trusted Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center’s world-class hand surgeons.
“Even though getting used to missing a finger has been really traumatic, I’m so appreciative of Dr. Puri and all of the therapists at IHTSC. Everyone was so great and helped me get back to softball.”—Liv S., Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center patient
How Do I See an IHTSC Amputation Specialist?
Request an appointment today, and take the first step in healing after a severe crush injury and other traumatic accidents.
Prefer to schedule by phone? Call us at (317) 751-5904.
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