The road to recovery: Kevin Lewis' hand surgery

The list of everyday tasks that require your hands is infinite, from taking a shower, brushing your teeth, cooking, and even working. We take for granted these simple acts until something happens that points out just how critical full mobility is to daily life.

Newscenter 16’s Kevin Lewis has experienced first-hand the difficulties of life with a hand injury. An accident in his garage just over a month ago made Kevin’s job working with the camera, a little harder.

“The garage door came flying down and I jumped out of the way, and as I was jumping out of the way it happened so fast,” and in a few moments Kevin’s finger was hurt, “As I jumped out of the way, a screw on my garage door track just sliced the back side of my pointer finger open.”

Kevin went to the emergency room and had his finger stitched up after the accident. But more than a month afterward he was still having trouble.

“I lost of range of motion, I can’t go even about 90 degrees. And the interesting thing is if you look at how swollen it is next to my other pointer finger, you can really tell the difference” said Kevin.

The lack of control would be a problem for anyone, but especially for someone who needs his hands to shoot video and edit stories.

“I push up, I can make it flat, but I’ve got no control to keep it that way” he says.

Dr. Ronald Downs, a plastic surgeon, told Kevin he needed surgery to repair the damage. Dr. Downs said scar tissue and possibly a damaged tendon could be why his finger was not working and recovering as it should.

Plastic surgeons are usually associated with faces, breast augmentations, and tummy tucks, but Dr. Downs says that plastic surgeons have historically worked on hands as well.

“Plastic surgeons were the first hand surgeons. This actually dates back to World War I when the only part of the human body really exposed was the face or the hands, and that was the result of the development of trench warfare” says Dr. Downs.

According to Dr. Downs, 30 to 40-percent of plastic surgeons’ training is in hand surgery.

The Lewis family came into town, with Kevin’s parents Kate and Scott from Chicago sitting in as Dr. Downs explained the surgery.

Kevin underwent general anesthesia for the procedure. Dr. Downs and Nurse Anesthetist Rob Colcord agreed that because Kevin needed a tourniquet to control the bleeding, sedation would be the best option.

As he walked into the surgical suite, Kevin kept things light, “Looking stylish, I know,” he said in his hospital gown.

With Kevin asleep, his arm scrubbed and prepped, Dr. Downs made his incision to confirm what exactly kept him from having full control over his finger. The surgeons re-explored the wound, and got rid of the extra scar tissue in his finger.

“We’re going to take that scar out of there, we don’t like scars,” said Dr. Downs during the procedure, “that’s the old scar right underneath it, we’re looking at his tendon and he’s got a partial laceration of the tendon in here.”

All the scar tissue resulted from multiple nicks to his tendon, and explains why Kevin had trouble bending his finger.

Almost 15 minutes after surgery began, Dr. Downs was nearly finished, “I think he’s going to make it,” Downs joked, “this will actually heal a lot nicer than the other one because this is a surgically created wound as opposed to a garage door.”

For his parents, and a groggy Kevin, Dr. Downs had good news, “it won’t affect the structural integrity of the tendon at all. He’ll have fun function of the tendon.”

Kevin has been on the road to recovery for two weeks now. After a few sessions of occupational therapy, doctors say he only has a few more weeks left in his splint.

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