Shaken, not sprained: experts give politicians grip-and-grin safety tips
With the midterm elections approaching, a key constituency of health-care professionals is expressing concern about the ability of our nation's political leaders to perform one of their most essential duties.
Handshaking: They're doing it wrong!
So warns the Bethesda-based American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), which gave us some guidelines on how politicians should put their best hand forward at all their fundraisers and meet-and-greets.
Sound obvious? Don't laugh! Cindy McCain ended up in a sling from a badly executed shake while campaigning for her husband in 2008. "The hand has very small joints," AOTA's Deborah Yarett Slater told us. "If you're shaking hands all day, constantly repeating the motion, you can get inflammation. And when the hands swell there's not a lot of place for the swelling to go."
Slater is worried about Rahm Emanuel. (Note: The candidate for Chicago is missing half a finger on his shaking hand.) He does a good job of initiating handshakes, which helps maintain control, but keeps his fingers too far apart and allows his arm to stretch too far, she said after studying news videos. "A strong shake from a Chicago committeeman might sprain a finger."
Meanwhile, in Delaware, Christine O'Donnell has been allowing the shakers to control her hand -- very risky -- and bending at dangerous angles, Slater said.
The safest tactics: The two-handed handshake -- Nancy Pelosi does this very well, Slater said -- or the Clintonesque half-hug, arm flung around the shaker's shoulder. Really! We thought pols just did that to ingratiate. "It's an effort to distribute the force," she said.
The Reliable Source
| October 12, 2010; 1:05 AM ET
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