Hand Injuries That Could Prevent Using a Sword

Hi! I was wondering if you’d be able to tell me about some hand/arm injuries that could permanently prevent someone from wielding a sword? Sorry if this is a weird ask..

It’s not so much weird, as vague. There’s a lot of range on this. I mean, a severe CTE could prevent someone from effectively using a sword, though, obviously, that would come with some other, more significant, symptoms.

So, the most obvious answers are:

Loss of the hand or arm. If you don’t have an arm, you can’t pick up a sword with it. This one is kinda self explanatory. Worth remembering Götz von Berlichingen. He will come up, basically ever time we talk about lopping off a hand. A Bavarian mercenary, he lost his right hand to cannon fire in 1504, and had prosthetic replacements made, which he would continue to use while campaigning over the next 40 years.

While less dramatic, the loss of fingers can leave you without the ability to hold a sword. Also, I suspect, the loss of the thumb. I won’t rule out the possibility of custom modified blades specifically for individuals who’ve lost digits, but, generally safe to assume they can’t just pick up a sword.

Nerve damage could leave the hand or arm partially paralyzed, resulting in the inability to effectively wield a sword, without complete loss of the arm. These can originate from relatively minor injuries, if they damage the nerves. I had a friend who had lost sensation on a patch of their palm because of a (non-poisonous) snake bite. (The snake had damaged the nerve connection to that part of his hand.) Though, this didn’t affect his overall usage of the hand, you could easily end up with a penetrating wound like this either disabling some fingers, or the hand entirely.

Probably worth knowing, that some animal venoms can result in tissue atrophy, or necrosis (meaning, the meat literally rots off of the body.) It’s pretty horrifying, and, yeah, get the wrong spider bite on your hand without access to modern medical resources, and you could easily lose it.

Improperly healed broken bones in the hand could impair the manual dexterity enough to limit, or outright prevent the use of a sword. I’m a little fuzzier on exactly how this could happen, but because the bones in your hand are pretty delicate, it’s not a short list.

Somewhat obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list of possibilities. I’m still thinking of other things that could potentially mess up the hand to the point where you wouldn’t be able to use a sword. Likely, the answer is as simple as it getting stomped on by a horse, or losing some fingers to someone else’s blade, but there are a lot of ways the human body can break.

-Starke

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