Burns Journey

The quality of the outcome must be worth the pain of survival

Fiona Wood (AM)

The implications of a burn injury can have a major impact on individuals, their friends and their family.

It is usually the start of a long and challenging journey for the patient and their loved ones that requires patience, determination and inner strength from the patient, and love, empathy and support from family and friends.

Treatment

The severity of a burn determines the treatment and is dependent on several factors

  • the size and depth
  • the location
  • the age and general medical condition of the patient
  • other injuries

The acute injury usually requires hospitalisation for fluid resuscitation, pain relief, dressings to control the water loss and reduce the risk of infection and surgery for wound repair. 

The immediate treatment is all too frequently followed by many years of ongoing treatment to reduce the scarring, improve function and mobility and deal with possible social and psychological issues. Rehabilitation can be a long complex road.

Impact

The skin loses its ability to stretch, sweat, control its temperature and Contracturessafely absorb sunlight. This is due to the damage to the skin construct including the sweat glands, hair follicles, nerve endings and melanin profoundly affecting the functionality.

This can greatly restrict mobility. In a young person this is particularly traumatic - as a child grows and develops the damaged skin will not grow and stretch with the body causing contractures. Ongoing surgery is required to release the skin and graft new skin into the area.

Scarring, especially if visible on the hands, face, neck or arms can greatly affect self-image, resulting in low confidence and low self-esteem. This has the potential to become a barrier to participation in social activities, particularly for young people.

Recent advances have greatly improved treatment options and outcomes. However these treatments do not yet restore the normal functions to the skin, leading to a potential lifetime of issues.

 

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