Esther was just 4 years old when she received full thickness burns to her left hand after falling into a fire-pit on a family camping trip. Esther still recalls pulling her hand out of the coals and screaming at the sight of it. Esther is now 15 years old and has undergone 11 surgeries including skin grafts, scar revisions, z-plastys and laser treatment. All of these operations designed to release the scars as Esther still grows.
On top of the physical trauma caused by a burns injury comes the “emotional scarring” that less people are aware of. Although Esther is a bright, optimistic, young girl, she too dealt with her own anxieties surrounding how others would react to her scar and the impact this would have on her relationships. Growing up, however, this anxiety later stemmed from treatments and operations which caused disruptions to Esther’s school life. Despite all of this, Esther has a positive attitude and believes she “would not feel this way without the care I have received from my burns family that I’ve become a part of over these past 11 years.”
Esther’s story highlights the different ways a burn injury can impact your life and although there is a large body of knowledge surrounding the physical treatment of burns and scarring, there is little in regards to education on the psychological and social effects experienced by patients. Treatment in hospital can sometimes be invasive and frightening for patients, especially young children. It is therefore extremely important that all patients receive the correct emotional support from everyone around them. For many people in the wider community, they may be unsure of how to treat a burns patient and unaware of how to identify and respond to particular distress signals.
The Fiona Wood Foundation are looking forward to implementing the proposed online self-paced training program. This program can provide vital information on how to provide emotional support to burns injury patients in order to ensure an easy integration back into normal life, maximise their quality of life and overall reduce this emotional scarring as much as possible. The proposed training program seeks to educate burn care staff, parents of burn patients, and community leaders such as school teachers through learning modules and interactive quizzes. The proposed program would have a significant impact on the psychosocial treatment of patients and has an opportunity to help other kids like Esther.