Burns cover a large part of the body. Among the severity of the wound, third-degree burns ought to have a disastrous physical and psychological effect on victims. For victims suffering from severe burns, burn rehabilitation would be a lifelong process. It includes physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and psychiatric therapy.
Types of Rehabilitation
The aim of burn rehabilitation is to restore the patient’s quality of life. In most cases, this process is difficult, time-consuming and painful. Burn rehabilitation focuses on a holistic physical, mental, and emotional treatment plan. Rehab procedure involves –
- Occupational Therapy
- Psychiatric Therapy
Physiotherapy and Burn Recovery:
Physiotherapy is an essential part of recovery for burn patients especially in cases where skin grafts is required. During the healing process, patient will often experience decrease in mobility specifically in the joints. Physiotherapy aims to maintain and restore the joint’s range of motion. Physical exercises will help patients ease the burning pain and scarred skin. Recovery done with:
Skin lubrication helps to keep the skin moist and flexible where much strain is needed during different exercises when the patient is undergoing physiotherapy. It also helps to decrease itchiness which accompanies the healing process and also prevents complications of cracked skin
Hypertrophic scars or Keloids could form during the healing process for severe burns when excessive collagen fibers get built up. Keloids being itchy and painful can extend beyond the burn site while hypertrophic scars do not. Compression therapy done with tight bandages made specifically to put pressure and to prevent formation of scars
Splinting benefits to prevent tightening of skin and prevent skin contracture during wound healing
Scar massage is gently rubbing a burn scar with lotion or lubricant which helps ease pain and keep scarred areas more pliable and flexible. Also reduce appearance of scars, though the research is inconclusive
Lalita Benbansi a 24-year old, faced an incident that changed her life upside down in 2012, Lalita was attending her relative marriage in Uttar Pradesh with her mother. There were arguments and some disputes inside the family which reflected to swore revenge on Lalita’s family. One of the family member threw acid on her face while her mother was a witness to it all. Her father works in petrol bunk with a salary of Rs. 4,500/month couldn’t do much for his daughter. Hence, Lalita without receiving any treatment spent months in despair.
Later, she approached an NGO – Make Love No Scars(MLNS) Make who aided her treatment. She needs to undergo multiple surgeries, Lalita was trying her best to rehabilitate herself into the society by way of finding a job after the surgeries to fight and overcome the miserable phase of her life through treatment to get rid of the scars
Occupational Therapy for Burn Recovery:
When the burn patient declared physically stable, they will be advised to start working with an occupational therapist and a physical therapist
As the burnt skin heals, therapist will start gentle exercises followed by splints or compression wraps which helps diminish scars and skin contractions. Splints are helpful in preventing the skin from tearing up during sessions
Occupational therapists provide guidance and advice for patients help them accomplish daily tasks (bathe, dress, cook, and groom). Some patients need alternate techniques to do these tasks
Emotional and psychological state of mind will be a hindrance during recovery which entails counseling services for patients. Both physical and emotional therapy has to be done simultaneously because if a patient does not enthusiastically participate in emotional therapy, efforts shown at physical therapy will turn unsuccessful
Patients are encouraged to continue practicing exercises and techniques taught during occupational therapy sessions at home. Certain outpatient programs assist patients in improving skills for independent living, and can help patients formulate to return to work/ school
Psychiatric Therapy for Burn Recovery-
Burns cause physical deformities which leads to mental and emotional stress. Victims are more prone to post-traumatic stress and anxiety disorders. The excruciating pain grounds such disorders. Responses of loved ones could be more traumatic, worsening mental health as well, particularly when rendered disabled
Some cases psychiatric disorders exists even prior to the burn incident. Such scenarios would be more difficult to bring the patient back to a healthy mental state. Early counseling can help both mental and emotional recovery
Refit into the society-
Physical traumas such as burn injury and the painful and intrusive medical procedures required to treat them can be profoundly traumatizing
Psychological healing needs to be supported throughout all phases of recovery including reintegration.
The aims of burn rehabilitation are to minimize the trauma caused by injury in terms of maintaining range of movement, minimizing contracture development / impact of scarring, maximizing functional ability / psychological wellbeing and social integration
Burn victims feel alone and isolated. It’s extremely difficult to cope up with the injury for which they restrict themselves to face the society. They should be encouraged and helped to re-establish themselves in vocational/social life. Family members and friends should provide emotional support in returning to life activities so as to re-enter the society
Life after a burn injury will require some significant time adjusting, however, with the right support and rehabilitation, burn victims can get back on their feet.