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Psychological Consequences of Burns

One of the most traumatic experiences that a person can go through both physically and psychologically is suffering a burn injury. Psychological consequences of burns don’t only affect the patient who suffered the burn trauma, but can affect the people who are close to him/her. Psychiatric symptoms and needs depend on the stage of recovery. There are three stages of recovery which are:

  • Resuscitative stage (critical care stage).
  • Acute stage.
  • Long term rehabilitation.

The Resuscitative stage (critical stage):

After a burn injury, some patient will need to be admitted to the hospital and depending on the severity of their injury some will be admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital. In this scary environment with all the tubes and instruments attached to the patient, the painful procedures that the patient is going through, separation from friends and family, limited outside communication, struggling for survival and other factors such as the high doses of medications used in the treatment, infections, metabolic conditions and others may contribute to the patient’s symptoms. The patient may experience psychological issues such as extreme drowsiness, confusion, disorientation and delirium. The patient may start to misinterpret his/her surrounding when there is an altered state of consciousness, like misidentifying friends, hear things that are not really there, etc.

Members of the team taking care of the patient will work with the patient’s family members to do whatever they can to enhance recovery. The patient is encouraged to deal with this unusual situation in the intensive care unit with whatever means possible such as denial. Family members play an important role in the recovery, although it is hard and distressing for them to see a loved one in this condition and going through all of this, they should always be calm and give hope to the patient as this will help in the recovery.

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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