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F.O.O.S.H! (or a Fall Onto Outstretched Hand)

Aug 4, 2020

More than just a really cool sounding noise, a “foosh” is the medical term for a particular type of injury, where someone suffers a Fall Onto an Outstretched Hand. FOOSHs are common for horse riders, cyclists, and people tripping and falling forwards, and automatically putting one or both hands out to break their fall.

Sadly, whilst putting your hand out can break the fall, it often results in a break to the wrist. Depending on which way the break or fracture goes, this can be either a Colles fracture, where the “arm bone” goes backwards from the wrist, or a Smith’s fracture, where the “arm bone” goes towards the wrist.

The impact of a FOOSH can also go through the wrist up to the elbow (risking dislocation or a even a break), past the elbow to the shoulder (where you can risk a break in the upper arm bone – the humerus – if it crashes into the shoulder, shoulder dislocation, rotator cuff tears or damage to the cartilage around the “ball and socket joint” that makes up the shoulder joint) or even a collarbone fracture.

Even without a bone injury, a FOOSH can cause damage to nerves or muscles. They can also be frightening to both the faller and any witness, and can even knock people’s confidence about walking if the faller is elderly.

If you or a loved one suffers a fall onto an outstretched hand, it’s definitely worth visiting your GP or A&E and reporting what has happened so you can be checked out. Some fractures are obvious, but others, especially like the collarbone, may not be immediately apparent.

Recovery from a FOOSH can be slow  – exercise can help with both strength in the injured arm and with balance. If there has been surgery, it could be worth seeking out advice from a scarwork therapist about how to minimise the effect and appearance of the scar. FOOSH injuries can also result in axillary nerve damage, which can result in fatigue during overhead work (RAPID NFR, as used at State 11, can help with this).

(picture shows skateboarder Nyjah Huston from https://dopetag.com/en/sports/nyjah-huston-worse-skateboard-falls/)

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