Recently in Burn Wound Care at Home Category

March 24, 2012

Burn Victims Can Reduce Pain Through Virtual Reality Games

In August 2011, Randy McAllister suffered third degree burns while trying to save equipment from a fire in wheat field. Today, he says that when he goes for his burn treatments, "it gets me to the threshold where I can't stand it, but then I find out it can hurt even more," says the 60-year-old farmer. During five weeks at the Oregon Burn Center at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, McAllister needed repeated rounds of burn wound care to remove dead tissue from his extensive burns. "It's more painful than the fire."

Then a nurse told him about SnowWorld, a computer game designed to help burn patients escape from agonizing pain by distracting their minds during burn treatments. During his next wound care session, McAllister wore headphones and looked through virtual reality goggles. He found himself floating through an icy canyon rendered almost three-dimensional by the wrap-around goggles. By tapping on a computer mouse, McAllister fired snowballs at animated penguins, snowmen and dolphins in the canyon to a soundtrack of upbeat music. And the virtual world made his real-world pain less overwhelming.

It's one of the most successful examples of non-drug pain management techniques to emerge from the work of psychologists and neuroscientists. The search for non-drug options has gained urgency amid a worsening epidemic of overdoses linked to prescription opioid pain relievers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, which killed 14,800 Americans in 2008 - more those killed from heroin and cocaine overdoses combined.

In clinical trials, burn patients using SnowWorld reported 35 to 50 percent reductions in pain. The system was developed at the University of Washington by research scientist Hunter Hoffman and psychologist David Patterson, with input from burn care experts at Harborview Burn Center in Seattle.

Virtual reality therapy isn't a substitute for opioids and other pain-relieving medications, but it can boost the effectiveness of drugs - and possibly reduce the dosage. Researchers who developed the technology say it might also help people with chronic pain syndromes, although those clinical trials are incomplete.

Theresa McSherry, burn and wound care coordinator at the Oregon Burn Center, says burn patients need more options. Pharmaceutical research has provided safer and more effective anesthetics and opioid pain relievers, but drugs have limits.

"You can't safely give burn patients enough medication to provide adequate pain relief," says McSherry, a registered nurse who has worked with burn patients for more than 10 years. A grant from the Legacy Foundation allowed the Oregon Burn Center to buy the $66,000 virtual reality system in August. About a dozen are being used worldwide.

Preventing pain not only relieves immediate suffering, but also seems to help burn patients weeks and months later. Patterson, the UW psychologist, says the amount of pain during treatment is a stronger predictor of depression, anxiety and distress six months to a year later than the extent of burns or the length of hospital stay. "If you can control more of the acute pain, it can result in better long-term outcomes," he says.

Scientists have known for decades that the human brain can interpret the same signal transmitted by a pain receptor as painful or not, depending on what a person is thinking. Mood and expectation also play a big role. German researchers recently showed that a sad mood consistently makes people experience more pain. In another recent experiment, tricking people to think time passed more quickly reduced perception of pain.

Entering a rich, three-dimensional, sound-filled virtual reality might use so much of the brain's attention resources that less is available to process pain. "We're taking advantage of the malleability of human perception to deliberately divert mental resources away from the pain," Hoffman says.

Burn patients come to associate the sights and sounds of the wound treatment room with excruciating pain so that just entering the room can amplify the suffering, Hoffman says. Putting on headphones and goggles blocks the anxiety-stirring sights and sounds.

But distraction of attention appears to be the main way that virtual reality reduces pain. Hoffman's team has compared differing gear and found that the more realistic and "immersive" the gear, the greater the reduction in pain reported.

That matches McAllister's experience. His burned fingers made it difficult to hold the computer mouse during his SnowWorld experience. When the mouse slipped from his hand and he lost engagement with the snowball throwing, the pain of the procedure immediately intruded.

McAllister expects to continue intensive physical therapy for several months to regain more use of his fingers and hands. He may need additional surgery to remove scar tissue and increase joint mobility. But he's optimistic about returning to work next year.

Patterson believes virtual reality can help treat chronic pain as well. The UW researchers also developed a virtual reality program that induces hypnosis. The goal is to use post-hypnotic suggestion to change the way the brain handles chronic pain signals long after therapy sessions.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

March 6, 2012

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Gets Recall of Melamine Mugs, Due to Serious Burn Hazard


In late February, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Carlisle FoodService, announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer products. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately. Also, it is illegal to attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.

The type of product being recalled is beverage cups and mugs. About 111,000 units are targeted by the recall. The importer of these cups and mugs is Carlisle FoodService Products of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The danger related to these cups and mugs is that they can break when they come in contact with hot liquids, posing a threat of serious burns to consumers. Carlisle has received three reports of cups and mugs breaking during use with hot liquid. No injuries were reported, however.

The nine models of Carlisle cups and mugs were sold in sizes from 7 ounces to 16 ounces, and in the following colors: white, green, red, brown, black, ocean blue, sand, honey yellow, bone, and sunset orange. They are approximately 3 inches tall and are made of melamine. The name "Carlisle OKC, OK" and model number are imprinted on the bottom of each product, along with "Made in China" and "NSF." Some might also include the model name and size, for example: "Durus 7 oz cup." Cups and mugs included in this recall are:

Sierrus™ Mug, 7.8 oz, Model # 33056
Durus® Challenge Cup, 7.8 oz, Model # 43056
Dallas Ware® Stacking Cup, 7 oz, Model # 43546
Dayton™ Stacking Cup, 7 oz, Model # 43870
Kingline™ Ovide Cup, 7 oz, Model # KL300
Kingline™ Stacking Cup, 7 oz, Model # KL111
Melamine Stackable Mug, 8 oz, Model # 4510
Cappuccino Mug, 12 oz, Model # 4812

Many people suffer second degree burns and third degree burns each year from spills of hot liquids onto their skin. The immediate treatment for this type of burn is to pour cold water over the affected skin for 1-2 minutes so that the various layers of skin cool down quickly and are not damaged so badly that they require skin grafts. After doing this, the victim should seek professional medical attention.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

November 9, 2011

The Power of Positive Thinking Helps When Healing From a Burn Injury

An August 15 article in the Rapid City Journal in South Dakota told the story of firefighter Austin Whitney, who is in the long and painful process of recovering from severe burns across thirteen percent of his body. He received those second degree burns and third degree burns after the Coal Canyon wildfire trapped the 22-year-old and four fellow firefighters.

What is helping Austin to make the best recovery he can is this: the power of his mind. "His spirits are just out of this world. He is in such a good mindset," said Robert Whitney, Austin's father, from outside the hospital room just two days after Austin was burned. "He told me that this incident isn't going to stop him from being a firefighter."

Austin Whitney followed in the firefighting footsteps of his father, grandfather, and aunts and uncles. This summer was his first season with the South Dakota Wildland Fire Suppression Division, a state firefighting agency. But Austin started fighting fires when he turned 18, joining the Pringle Volunteer Fire Department--the same department as his father and grandfather. He joined the Cascade Volunteer Fire Department the following year, and is now a co-captain. "It overjoyed me to no end," said Austin's father. "It excited me that he would take an interest like this."

But even though Robert said that his son's healing was going well just days after the fire, it was very hard for the family to take the news of their son's injuries when it first happened. "A lot of emotions were going through my head at the time," Robert said. "We didn't know how bad it was or anything that was going on, and it made the whole family nervous."

The night he was burned, Austin was flown to Western States Burn Center at Northern Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, Colorado, where he was treated for second degree burns on his face, right arm, and both calves, plus third degree burns on his left arm. Doctors expected Austin to stay at the burn center for about two weeks, with skin grafts performed just five days after Austin was injured.

Robert Whitney said the support that Austin and the whole family have received is overwhelming, and helps Austin and his family keep that positive outlook that is so critical to healing from a burn injury. "It's just been outstanding, the support we have gotten," Robert said. "I want to put a thanks out to all of the firefighters, family, friends that have called, texted, and sent cards. It really means a lot to us."

If you or someone you know suffers a burn injury or a smoke inhalation injury, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a solid legal case.

September 22, 2011

A Burn Victim Now Helps Others Overcome Their Severe Burns

There was a terrific article written for the Associated Press this past week about burn survivors and their path to living normally again. Here is part of that article:

Three dozen hotel housekeepers are focused on 62-year-old Sharon Everett. She's helping lead sensitivity training at the Hyatt Regency Cincinnati in advance of the Phoenix Society's annual World Burn Congress held each year in late September. It will be hosted by Shriners Hospital for Children - Cincinnati, and is being held in this city for the first time.

She's come to prepare the hotel staff for a conference that will draw hundreds of burn survivors from around the country, as well as family members, burn care professionals and firefighters. She also will tell her story.

On July 9, 2000 Sharon was returning home from the grocery store. Her shopping bags sat on the floorboard behind the driver's seat, and included chemical products for the family's pool.

But as she pulled into the driveway, the car's interior suddenly burst into flames. Fire officials said the blaze ignited when the pool chemicals leaked and mixed with other grocery products. Her husband George said "I thought I lost her. I thought she was gone." Doctors thought so, too, at first, saying she had almost no chance to survive. Sharon had suffered third degree burns across 60 percent of her body. Her head and face were most severely burned. Her nose, lips, eyelids, ears and hair were gone.

Sharon remembers nothing of the fire. She was placed in a drug-induced coma for five months so skin grafts could take. "Her body had to work so hard to heal," says her daughter Patty, the youngest of the Everetts' five children. The family lost track of the number of surgeries Sharon endured.

After nine months in the hospital and a rehab center, Sharon came home, and the responsibility to provide burn injury care at home fell on her family. They changed gauze dressings, massaged burn scar tissue, and put on compression garments to reduce scarring.

"We took turns breaking down," says oldest child Katie, now 40 years old, who quit her teaching job to help care for her mother. "So when one person was feeling down, somebody else was always there to pick us up. And Mom was always the perfect patient. She was never complaining."

Sharon, who had to relearn tasks like how to feed herself, was bolstered by her family. "It's kind of like I had to live up to their expectations," she says. "It was the strength in them that helped me do it."

The Everetts say they were lucky to have the support of their family, community and church. Because of the generosity of others, they didn't have to make a meal for about a year after the accident. Still, "you feel so helpless," Katie says, "like you're the only ones who've ever been through this traumatic injury."

Katie searched the Internet and found the Phoenix Society, a Grand Rapids, MI-based burn support organization. The society's 2001 World Burn Congress was in Grand Rapids. At Katie's urging, the family rented a large van and headed north, less than a year after the accident.

"I was anxious about going," Sharon says, "because I didn't know what to expect. I was also excited about going. I knew we would learn something."

They met "so many people who had been through similar injuries, which was hard to believe," Katie says. "They were surviving, and thriving, and having a good life."

Says Sharon: "It was amazing to see people and what they had accomplished, and to see them having a good time. Laughing. Dancing."

She hasn't missed a conference since. She and George and various family members have traveled to Vancouver, Sacramento, Phoenix, New York and other cities.

The Everetts say the conference is like a family reunion where people share stories. "When you hear a story, it's not only healing for the person telling it," George says, "it's also healing for those that are listening, because a lot of them have been through similar circumstances."

The burn conferences have helped Sharon meet other challenges. She's no longer uncomfortable when going out to restaurants and shops. She's no longer preoccupied with people staring at her.

She's still bothered, though, when a child sees her and is visibly upset. She doesn't like it when an inquisitive child is quieted by a parent. "I would rather people ask than wonder. Especially children. I make my answer very simple - 'I was burned, but I'm fine now.' I don't want them to worry about me."

She acknowledges sometimes feeling discouraged. Recovery, she has learned, is a lifelong process. "I have to look at this face in the mirror every day," she says. "Most days, that's fine, I can deal with it. But there are days I get down."

But she knows that nobody goes through life unscarred, whether emotionally or physically. She tells other survivors: "You're going to have a bad day. Don't let that become your way of life. You'll get past it. Your life may be changed, but it's not over. And in some ways, it's going to be better than it was before."

Eleven years after the fire, Sharon volunteers weekly at the hospital's burn clinic, where she visits patients that need someone to talk to. She also volunteers at her church and does gardening and takes takes dance lessons. And "I'm really enjoying my grandchildren," she says.

If you or someone you know suffers a burn injury of any type, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, NY so that they can determine whether another party is legally liable for your injuries, and if you have a solid legal case.

June 23, 2011

Survivor Story: A Young Boy Overcomes His Severe Burns

In October 2006, Camryn Higgins suffered second- and third-degree burns to 65 percent of his body in an accidental backyard explosion at his Bastrop, Texas home. It was a Sunday morning, and he and his family was cleaning up after a seventh birthday party for Camryn the day before. His father was getting ready to light the grill for some outdoor cooking. Camryn, carrying a few chairs, also grabbed a lighter to take to his dad. But he tripped on a sidewalk and fell, and somehow the lighter emitted a spark. This ignited fumes from a nearby gas can.

"The backyard was full of smoke and I started hollering, 'Where's my baby, where's my baby?'" recalled Carl Higgins. "Finally he ran in front of me, and I noticed that he was on fire."

Emergency crews blocked traffic on a nearby highway and a medical helicopter landed to get the child to the Burn Center at Shriners Hospital for Children, in Galveston. Camryn was put on life support and doctors worried he would not survive. But several days later, the boy awoke to his astonished and deeply worried parents. Then the recovery had to begin--which included very painful baths to keep him from getting life-threatening infections.

"I remember every morning before they told me to get in the tub room, they asked: 'Do you want the pain pill or the pain popsicle?'" said Camryn, now 11 years old. "That tub room is no joke," said Camryn's father, Carl Higgins. "I don't think a grown man could sit there and go through that pain those kids went through."

"Every time it was time for him to go to the tub room, he called for prayer," remembered Camryn's mother, Katina White Higgins. "So we would call the pastor and pray early in the morning before Camryn went in."

"He would not enter that room unless we prayed; that was the only way he would go in. He would say, 'No, I'm not going in until we have prayer.' And then they had a CD that he liked, so we would put his music on and it was easier for Camryn."

"The hardest thing a parent will ever have to see is their child get scrubbed until they bleed," the mother continued. "You see that blood flowing in that tub and it's just a horrible thing. It's like pieces of your child just going down the drain and it's a horrible feeling."

The scrubbings were designed to remove the dead skin from Camryn's face, arms and torso. The medical staff at the Burn Center of the Shriners Hospital for Children rubbed hard to keep the boy's wounds from becoming infected.

But the good news is that at her moment of despair, Camryn's mom saw a therapist. "I went and spoke with the therapist and she gave me some really good advice. She said, 'Write everything down; write it all down.'" The result of that is "Camryn's Fire," a book that lays out the journey this family traveled on their way back to physical and emotional health. It was a journey that took Camryn's parents to the brink of divorce and their extended families to broken relations.

"I wanted to find out what was causing these things to happen and now I know the answer," Katina White Higgins said. "The answer is I'm being made by God to do this, and I'm going to be so much better after this is over. We were strong enough to take it and make something positive out of it, so that we can be advocates for children to be safe."

Camryn's mom is working on a new book called "I Am Different But We're All the Same." It's going to talk about a child who has been burned and who is coming back into the world with kids who are not burned. "We'll touch on how the child will look different after being burned, but the heart is the same and the love and the friendship is the same." Higgins plans to market the book in hospitals and schools to help children cope with such tragedies.

As for Camryn, here's an update: Every day, he slathers a medical cream over his scars and then does a round of push-ups. He's working out in anticipation of a summer football camp, to be followed by play on his school team in the fall. "When I grow up," he said, "I'm planning on going to University of Texas and playing football there," he said.

As for his scars: "My friend from a burn camp has her mom tell people that her burns were a tattoo from God showing his love," said Camryn. "So I really don't care what people think about how I look. I just care what I think. I think I look beautiful."

Then he smiled and struck a few body-builder poses. His parents smiled back, like people who have felt a heavy weight lifted from their hearts.

March 16, 2010

Burn Wound Care at Home

Wound care at home is an important factor in the continuation of wound healing. A patient may come home with unhealed areas that still require wound care.
Dressing change and bathing:


  1. It is important to wash the hands with soap and water before and after dressing changes.

  2. Put surgical gloves on both hands.

  3. If dressing change is painful, pain medications might be needed (consult with your doctor), pain medications if needed have to be taken 30 minutes before changing the dressings to give them time to work.

  4. Dressing change may be done during bathing (ask your doctor if you can shower or bathe).

  5. Remove the old dressings carefully. Taking care not to disturb scabs on healing process.

  6. Look for any signs and symptoms of infection.

  7. Use lukewarm water, wash the wound gently with soap and water, use mild non deodorant soap (such as Dove), if you have used creams or ointments, make sure that you have removed all of it by using a clean white wash cloth (avoid using any cloth that contain dyes as it may be irritating to the skin).

  8. Dry the skin, apply creams, ointments, if they were given to you (consult your doctor for the type of creams and ointments).

  9. Cover the wound with a clean, dry dressing (consult your doctor for the type of dressing)


When Bathing a Child:

  1. Make sure that the hot water tank temperature is set below 120 degree F so that very hot water cannot be turned on accidentally.

  2. Make sure that the area where bathing is taking place (shower or tub) is clean.

  3. Fill the tub BEFORE placing child in the water, make sure the water is not too hot.

  4. Have a specific clean area where you will always perform the dressing change, make sure you have all the supplies needed for dressing change and have a place where you store them.

  5. Always look for signs and symptoms of infection especially in children as they may not be able to express what they feel.

  6. Contact your doctor immediately if there are any signs and symptoms of infection.


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.