Articles Posted in Psychological Consequences of Burns: Acute Stage

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A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle offered up the amazing story of Derek Thomas, a 19-year-old athlete who for the past year has endured indescribable pain during the process of healing from third-degree burns so severe that he was given a 1 percent chance of survival by doctors.

But he has made it through the ordeal, and is working not only on getting stronger but also on becoming just another person with a normal daily routine, which is a blessing too many of us take for granted.

One day in August 2010, Derek sat in an SUV that was returning him home to San Diego from athletic training in the mountains. As he dozed off, the driver swerved the SUV, and it skidded across lanes of traffic, rolled over, and grinded along on its side. It then burst into flames.

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This month, a young Iraqi boy disfigured by a car bomb in Iraq came to Long Island, NY for surgery that could give him a chance at a normal life. Zeenabdeen Hadi, now four years old, was barely a year old when the blast burned part of his face down to the bone.

The Global Medical Relief Fund helped bring the boy and his uncle to the United States. The two are staying at Ronald McDonald House in New Hyde Park, NY and are expected to be there for several months. In addition to reconstructive surgery, doctors want to close a wound in Zeenabdeen’s forehead that could lead to a brain infection.

This is not the first time that young victims of severe burns in Iraq have been brought to the U.S. for life-altering and even life-saving treatment of injuries resulting from third-degree burns. In 2007, a six-year-old Iraqi boy, who was horribly scarred after he was set on fire by insurgents outside Baghdad, underwent surgery in Los Angeles to repair his badly burned face. The boy, known only as Youssif, will need almost a year and several more surgeries to recover. The American public responded generously to his needs, donating $300,000.

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The Associated Press reported today that a Texas construction worker, whose face was completely disfigured by third-degree burns suffered when he fell into an electrical power line, successfully underwent the nation’s first full face transplant in a Boston hospital last week.

Dallas Wiens, 25, received a new nose, lips, skin, muscle and nerves from a recently-deceased person. The operation was paid for by the United States armed forces, which is trying to learn more about how to help soldiers who suffer disfiguring facial wounds.

In March 2010, doctors in Spain performed the first full face transplant in the world on a farmer who was accidentally shot in the face, and could not breathe or eat on his own.

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From a story that makes most good people wonder why there is such evil in the world comes a lesson that anyone who is burned, injured, or otherwise ill can look to as hope for themselves.

In South Florida back in February, a 10-year-old boy named Victor was deliberately doused with chemicals by his adoptive father and left to die. Fortunately, the boy was spotted in the front seat of his father’s pickup truck by a passerby, who called police. Victor had third-degree burns from the chemicals, and it did not seem likely that he would live.

He spent weeks at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, at first barely conscious but over time responding to treatments and making progress. Almost as important, his mental state was aided by the bonds he made with other patients–and in return, those bonds also aided the psyche of each patient who interacted with Victor while he was in the hospital.

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Acute stage:

This stage of recovery follows the resuscitative stage. In this stage the patient begins the healing process both physically and emotionally. Patients in this stage are still going through the painful procedures and treatments. They will start to be aware of the impact of the injury and how their injuries have changed their lives. Some have lost loved ones; some may have lost everything they have worked for.

Patients in this stage may experience sleep disturbance due to many factors: being in a hospital environmental with factors such as lights, staff awakening the patient for medication and to check vital signs. Anxiety and depression plays a major role in sleep disturbance. Nightmares, agitation and pain may also affect sleep. Acute stress disorder which occurs in the first month and post traumatic stress disorder which occurs after the first month manifest during this stage.