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Lincoln school officials replace table saw with safer model in wake of student ...

LINCOLN, Maine — On Friday, school officials replaced the table saw at which a Mattanawcook Academy student accidentally severed a finger last month , Regional School Unit 67 Superintendent Keith Laser said.

Cameron Fournier’s finger was surgically re-attached at a Boston hospital.

Technology education teacher Thomas Vicaire purchased what Laser described as a SawStop table saw on Thursday. It was delivered to the school at noon. Vicaire, Mattanawcook Academy Principal Henry Pietras and Laser selected the model, according to Laser.

“This is a state-of-the-art saw with all the latest safety guards in place,” Laser said Friday.

SawStop is a privately-held manufacturer of saws based in Oregon that has about 430 distributors nationwide. The company has sold about 65,000 units since it was founded 10 years ago, according to Matt Howard, the company’s vice president of marketing.

The product is unique, Howard said, in that it automatically stops its blade when the blade touches human skin. The blade carries a small electrical signal. When skin contacts the blade, the signal changes because the human body is conductive, and the safety system stops the blade in less than 5 milliseconds.

Difficulties making diagnoses only add to challenges

“It’s challenging,” said Dr. Brian Pierce, a primary care physician at Midcoast Medicine in Rockport and president-elect of the Maine Medical Association. “Chronic pain is one of the hardest things we do.”

One reason is that there’s no test for pain – no full-body scan or blood analysis that can show whether a patient has it or how bad it is. Yet, it’s the primary reason people go see a doctor.

Joint and back pain alone are the second and third most common reasons for an office visit, after skin issues, according to a 2013 Mayo Clinic study. Headaches or migraines also made the top 10.

The first doctor seen by patients with pain usually is their primary care physician.

Pierce said there are different things he does in exams to determine the severity of pain and its effect on his patients’ ability to function – looking at how they walk, what their range of motion is and whether it’s consistent when the exams are repeated.

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