Mercy me! Playground ‘game’ can cause irreparable damage to children’s fingers

A popular but dangerous game of schoolchildren in which one bends back the fingers of the other causes a severe injury in a 14-year-old.

tunnel from gazakaplan doctors with kid 370 (photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
tunnel from gazakaplan doctors with kid 370
(photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
A popular but dangerous schoolyard game, in which one child bends back another’s fingers, has caused a severe injury in a 14-year-old boy.
Itai Sasson, a teenage pupil at the Rabin School in Mazkeret Batya, was hospitalized last week with a bent-back ring finger on his left hand.
He and a schoolmate had played the game, called Rahamim (Mercy), during a classroom break. As Itai experienced severe pain, his mother rushed him to the emergency room, where hand surgeons worked to save a damaged bone from functional problems.
Dr. Amir Oron, an expert in hand surgery at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, where Sasson was treated, said on Sunday that children are not aware of how dangerous the game is. It causes the tissues in the hand to be twisted, and the damage to a developing hand may be irreversible, he said.
“Such a dangerous game is common among schoolchildren who are not aware of the potential harm, and it can develop into even more extreme games,” he said.
Itai said he had been playing Mercy for quite a while.
The game is simple: One person bends the finger backward until the second says “mercy.”
“In one case, I played with a boy who was stronger than me, and I felt the finger on my left hand was completely twisted and really hurt,” he said.
Oron said the hands of teenagers and younger children are very delicate, and when they are exposed to such movements, they can be permanently damaged.
“We hope Itai will have a full recovery,” he said.
Itai’s mother asked her son to bring a message to the class that it’s better to play ball games than to bend fingers.