Physical Therapy and Third Degree Burns

March 20, 2012

The aim of physical therapy is to improve the movement and function of the affected area and to prevent and minimize scarring (hypertrophic, Keloid) as much as possible. Once the patient has sustained a burn injury such as a second or a third degree burn, the rehabilitation phase should begin as soon as possible.

Physical therapy usually starts at the time of admission; the patient will be assessed by a team of therapists who are part of the burn care team and rehabilitation will start accordingly.

Physical therapy may include:

  • Body and limb positioning.
  • Exercises: they are either active exercises done by the patient himself or passive exercises done by the physical therapist moving the area involved.
  • Splints: splint will be fitted by your therapist and need to be worn as instructed, if you develop an allergic reaction such as redness, blistering, itching, numbness or abnormal sensation when wearing the splint than you have to remove it and contact your therapist immediately.
  • Orthotic devices: some patients may need to use orthotic devices.
Physical therapy may be hard in the beginning because of the pain that is associated with the burn and surgeries, the sensitivity of the skin and the fear that the patient have. In children doing physical therapy may be harder; parents play an important role with the team in encouraging the child, helping him/her with their therapy and praising them.

Some patients will be transferred to a rehabilitation center after discharge from the burn center to continue their rehabilitation, the duration and type of therapy will depend on the condition of the patient and the severity of the burn.

Patients may be discharged home with instruction to continue physical therapy at home; compression garments may be given and used with exercising.

For some a physical therapist will be assigned to them making home visits, if exercises are given to you by your therapist, it is important to do these exercises and increase your home activities as advised by your therapist.

Make sure to follow all the orders and instructions given to you, it may be hard in the beginning, you may get tired and frustrated but you have to remember that it is for your benefit and will become easier with time, the aim of the therapy is to restore the normal daily activities as much and as soon as possible and to prevent any deformities.

Make sure to attend all outpatient follow up appointments with the burn clinic as your physicians and therapists will monitor your progress and adjust what needs to be adjusted for you.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

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