NEW YORK CITY — Dr. Steven Beldner is well aware of what the fallout from the Fourth of July may bring.
"It's amazing how often this occurs. Fourth of July is a very busy time for a hand surgeon," he said, referring to the prevalence of fireworks mishaps.
Beldner, co-director of New York Hand and Wrist Center at Lenox Hill Hospital, is one the foremost hand surgeons in the city who has worked on former NFL as well as NHL players. If there is one thing he can put his finger on when it comes to dealing with high-caliber athletes, it is the following: "Most professional athletes that I have worked with before have a tremendous will to continue and to return back to the level they were before."
Which in the case of Jason Pierre-Paul is a positive. This as the 26-year-old recovers from a fireworks accident that cost the all-pro his right index finger.
"It's always the thumb, the index and the third because that is how you are holding the firework," Beldner said.
However, there are differences in the complexities of restructuring a finger or hand following a fireworks accident in comparison to other accidents.
"I would much rather prefer to have my finger cut off with a machete than to have it blown off with fireworks," he said.
"The tissue get cooked and it's destroyed so it's not a situation where you can just sew the pieces back on again," Beldner said at his office in Midtown.
Additionally, he said there tends to be stereotype when it comes to individuals who suffer a fireworks injury.
"It tends to be young males who feel that they are indestructible and when they are doing something like this, they feel like it's not going to happen to them," he said. "It always happens to the other guy until it actually does happens to them."
For Pierre-Paul, the fact that the index finger is part of the hand's fine manipulation area and not the power side may be the only benefit out of this serious accident.
"The index finger is one of the least important fingers, because if you lose your index finger you can immediately bypass it to your third or your fourth or your fifth finger," Beldner said.