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news item News Thursday, May 23, 2019 Thursday, May 23, 2019 3:30 PM - Thursday, May 23, 2019 3:30 PM

Maddison's story

Back on the softball field after frightening treadmill accident

Ten-year-old Maddison is back on the softball field after a scary accident involving a treadmill last May. She was not physically on the machine, but was playing alongside the moving belt when her hand slipped and was sucked underneath the treadmill. The forward motion of the belt prevented her from being able to dislodge her hand on her own. Maddison’s grandfather lifted the machine up to free her and called her mom, Emily.

Emily says, “Everything happened so fast after that phone call, it was such a whirlwind. Once I got to Maddie, I took one look at her hand and we rushed to our local emergency room.”

Maddison suffered a second-degree burn to the top of her hand and full thickness burns on two fingers. The injury left the tendons in her fingers exposed. Emily says, “Honestly, I never imagined something as common as a treadmill being able to inflict so much damage to someone.“

Maddie’s first question upon seeing her hand was, “Will I be able to play softball?”

The emergency department team in Maine immediately referred Maddison to a local plastic surgeon who said he was unable to help Maddie due to the complex nature of her burn injury. She was referred to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston, where the team specializes in burns, including treadmill burns.

The family traveled from Maine to the Boston Shriners Hospital. Maddie was nervous in the car but her mom recalls those nerves were put at ease as soon as they arrived at the hospital. One of the first people they met was Rebecca Parmenter, a child life specialist. Rebecca and the team of child life specialists at the Boston Shriners Hospital help patients navigate the hospital experience in age-appropriate ways, answer patients’ questions, and even utilize non-pharmacological pain management and distraction techniques during various procedures.

Emily recalls, “Rebecca came to introduce herself to Maddie and explain that it was her job to keep Maddie comfortable during her appointment. After that, I never saw a moment of nervousness throughout her recovery.”

Maddison and her parents also met Robert L. Sheridan, M.D., assistant chief of staff and chief of the burn service at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston.  Dr. Sheridan says treadmill injuries are very complicated because of the damage to the bone and the small blood vessels in the impacted area. He notes that some treadmill burns do not look severe at first but get worse in the days following the injury, which can complicate diagnosis and treatment. In Maddie’s case, the care team decided not to operate, but rather to manage her injury with rehabilitation and scar management.

Maddie and her family say many positive things came out of such a scary experience, including the incredible support they received from their family, friends and all the staff at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston. With all that support, Maddie knew she had many people cheering her on and was able to tackle every challenge in order to get better.

Not only did Maddie recover, she is back to playing softball! This season, she is even pitching for her team. Maddie says, “The new softball season is starting and because of Shriners, I can play ball!”

She is also hoping to educate her peers about the potential dangers of treadmills. She recently gave a presentation to her class, reminding everyone that treadmills are not toys.

Thank you Maddie, for sharing your story and for being so brave. Have a great softball season!

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Maddison in car