COTTTAGE GROVE, Wis - A Cottage Grove family has a warning for anyone working on the lawn this summer, after their son almost lost his ability to walk.
"It was terrible. We spent a total of eight weeks in the hospital," said Kevin Leffelman, 7-year-old Liam's father.
Liam's life changed last summer when he was accidently run over by a lawnmower, caused him to lose a portion of his calf and heel.
"It's the normal now. It's a year later. It's just helping him and making sure he can do what he wants to with his friend like going outside and playing and monitoring it to make sure he doesn't overdo it," Leffelman said.
Nearly 20,000 children and teens are injured from lawn mowers ever year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. About 7,000 of those are children under the age of 16.
"There is probably no more horrific injury that we have to take care. Its equivalent to a bomb blast or a war injury, " explained Dr. Ken Noonan, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at UW Health
Noonan treats an average of three lawnmower injuries each summer,.So far this season, he's already seen two.
"If you do the math, looking at population in Wisconsin, there will be 150 children that will have some sort of injury from a lawnmower this summer. They will have a burn, they will break a bone and its estimated that 15 to 20 percent of those are going to lose a limb," he said.
One year and 20 surgeries later, Liam is still healing. Despite some setbacks, he is still rolling wherever his path takes him.
His father he hopes their story will help other families avoid having the same injury.
"I know it's fun, but keep the kids inside. I know you want to give your kids a ride, it's kind of like a parent thing but just keep them in the house," Leffelman said.
Liam still has surgeries in his future, at times he does need a wheelchair to get around but his family says they are taking it all one step at a time.
The American Academy of Pediatrics give guidelines to prevent injuries from lawn mowers including:
-- Don't allow children under age 12 to operate a push mower or those under 16 to drive a riding mower.
-- Anyone under six should not be in the vicinity of a lawnmower
-- Do not allow children to ride on mowers as passengers.
-- Keep children off the lawn while mowing.
-- Pick up potential flying objects, such as stones and toys, before you start mowing.
-- Do not pull a mower backward or ride it in reverse unless absolutely necessary. If you do mow backwards, carefully look for children behind you.
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