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Baseball player throws again after losing hand in lawnmower accident

Meet a baseball player who had big league dreams, until he lost his hand in a freak accident. Learn more about the surgery that allowed him to throw again.
Credit: Cleveland Clinic

Luke Brittain lived and breathed the game of baseball and dreamed of playing in the big leagues, until a freak accident sidelined him. But that didn’t stop him from regaining strength so he could play again.

“To me baseball is just a way of life,” said Luke. “The first word I ever said was ball. I played all through high school, was eventually able to play college ball, and I played up until the accident.”

The then-22-year-old’s life changed in 2019. While mowing on the side of a hill, he slid into a ditch and went face first towards the blade. 

I just kind of had my hand in front of my face to protect it,” said Luke. “I reached down on my pocket for my phone and that’s when I realized my hand wasn’t there.”

An ambulance took Luke to Cleveland Clinic Akron General for a 14-hour surgery to reattach his hand. The clinical team only had a 6 to 12-hour window to reestablish blood flow to his hand.

He had injuries to his hand and then to every knuckle of every finger,” said William Lanzinger, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Akron General. “We ended up putting a pin in every finger and every joint. I’m not sure I’ve ever done something like that before, so it kind of speaks to the level of his injury and how traumatic it was.”

The initial surgery was only the first step. Luke had a lot of work ahead of him, especially if he wanted to pitch and hit a baseball again.

That’s what I told him before I left that night,” said Dr. Lanzinger. “If you want to throw a baseball, the ball’s in your court. You have to make it from here.”

Luke’s endured painful rehab therapy and five additional surgeries to help restore his hand.

“It’s the 4th quarter mentality where you don’t quit just because it gets hard,” said Luke.  That’s where you really show what you’re made of.”

The hard work is paying off. He’s not only able to throw and pitch again, but Luke’s inspiring other kids by coaching baseball at a local high school.

If you want to be successful, you don’t have a choice,” said Luke. “You have to keep working, and you got to keep pushing through, and I just want to be a living example of that.”

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