Burn injury rehabilitation is crucial to maximizing quality of life and independence after severe burns. It begins when a burn patient is admitted to the hospital or burn center and can last a lifetime. In the early stages, while the injuries are still acute, the goal of rehabilitation is to minimize lost range of motion. Effective rehabilitation can reduce the need for reconstructive surgery following severe burns. Typically, an entire team is involved in burn injury rehabilitation and can include a doctor, physical therapist, occupational therapist, psychiatrist or psychologist and a social worker.
Burn Injury Rehabilitation Addresses the Whole Person
Burn injury rehabilitation includes physical therapy to preserve and restore range of motion, occupational therapy to help you get back to preforming the normal daily activities of life, and psychological care to help you overcome the psychological and emotional hurdles that severe burns can present. In the early stages, education is a large part of rehabilitation and includes the whole family.
Physical therapy focuses largely on maintaining and restoring range of motion. Burn scars can turn into contractures, as the skin tightens, causing pain and making it difficult to move. Physical therapy includes exercises to stretch the skin as it heals, and massage. Therapy while the skin is healing is much more effective than trying to stretch the scars once they have fully formed.
Occupational therapy teaches you how to perform daily activities again, so you can be as independent as possible. It can start with very basic stuff, like feeding yourself and combing your hair. Over time, it can include tasks to help you get back to work and earning a living.
Severe burns can have devastating psychological effects. Burn injury victims may suffer PTSD as a result of the initial event that caused the burns and the trauma of burn treatment. the disfigurement caused by severe burns can cause burn injury patients to withdraw from society, friends and family and cause severe depression and anxiety.