Burn therapyBurn therapy is an integral part of recovering from your burn injury by helping to regain range of motion, strength, endurance, and function. We help you get back to being yourself. The therapy team consists of occupational and physical therapists, physical therapy assistants and rehabilitation aides.

What You Learn During Therapy

During therapy, you will learn how to:

  • Use your legs and arms again,
  • Improve your balance,
  • Walk with greater ease,
  • Dress with more confidence,
  • Eat, and
  • Groom.

Our goal is to help you to do everything you did before the injury.

Where Therapy Takes Place

Initially, burn therapy will be done at the bedside to accommodate those who are sedated or on a ventilator. Individual exercises will be posted in your room and must be performed several times a day. As you progress, therapy will continue in the burn therapy gym using specialized equipment to achieve rehabilitation goals.

Exercise stimulates circulation, reduces swelling, maintains strength and functional movement, and prevents scar contracture, a tightening of the skin. Exercise and mobility also prevent serious medical conditions such as blood clots, pneumonia, and bone loss.

Once you are able, you will be given a range of motion, strengthening, and mobility program. Your therapist will help you with your program until you and your loved ones feel comfortable and are able to manage this independently. You are encouraged to perform normal activities such as eating, dressing and walking as soon as you are able.

Factors that determine scarring include:

  • Depth of burn.
  • Healing time.
  • Body part burned.
  • Genetic tendency to form scar tissue.

Therapists will evaluate you for scarring and make recommendations for treatment. Two common complications from a burn injury are hypertrophic scar and scar contracture.

Hypertrophic Scar

Some second degree burns that heal spontaneously and burns that have been grafted require special attention to manage scarring. Any burn that takes longer than two weeks to heal is at a higher risk of forming hypertrophic scar tissue. Hypertrophic scars have excessive collagen fibers, which form uneven, raised tissue. Custom-made compression garments apply constant pressure and heat to the collagen fibers, encouraging formation of a smoother and flatter position. This flattening and smoothing should help joint motion and improve function.

Compression garments come in a variety of colors and are worn 23 1⁄2 hours a day. Temporary supports may be used until you are fit for compression garments. Silicone and foam inserts may also be needed underneath the supports to apply additional pressure in specific areas.

For several months after the injury, the immature scar tissue is red, thick, tender, and itchy. The garments must be worn during the entire healing process, up to 12–18 months. Once scars mature, they will be softer, pliable, and more even in color.

Contractures

You are at the highest risk for burn scar contracture during the first 9 months after your injury. A burn wound will heal in the position it is held most often. The position of comfort is the position of contracture. For this reason, it is important to maintain proper positioning during rest to prevent contractures. Contractures are formed when new skin that has lost elasticity forms across joints, making it difficult to stretch. A therapist will work with you and your loved ones to review proper positioning.

Proper positioning while in the hospital includes using special arm boards attached to the bed and elevating arms and legs to prevent swelling. In addition, patients with neck and ear burns will not be allowed to use pillows. While this may be uncomfortable, it is necessary during the healing process.

Splinting may be used to assist with positioning and protect skin grafts, especially at night. Splints may be made from several materials, including plastic, plaster or fiberglass cast material, or foam material. You and your loved ones will be instructed on how to apply the splint prior to discharge.

Our therapists follow patients’ progress and therapy needs after discharge from the hospital. You will work with them at the Outpatient Burn Clinic as needed. For those who live outside the Salt Lake Valley and in other states, you will coordinate care with physical and occupational therapists in your area.

Keep in mind, rehabilitation will be necessary for several months after discharge. Many patients with large injuries find that rehabilitation becomes a full-time job. Parents caring for an injured child may be overwhelmed at times, but we can offer many resources to help.

An important part of rehabilitation is for patients to return to as normal a routine as possible. Children are encouraged to engage in normal play activities and all patients are encouraged to remain active and perform tasks around the house. This will enhance burn therapy exercises, lead to a faster recovery, and prevent significant loss of strength and endurance.

Specialties:

Physical Therapy

Locations:

University Hospital
Burn Therapy
801-581-2132

Specialties:

Physical Therapy

Locations:

Red Butte Clinic
Sports Physical Therapy Clinic
801-587-7005

Amalia Cochran, MD, MA

Patient Rating:

4.1

4.1 out of 5

Dr. Amalia Cochran received her general surgery training at the University of Utah and her burn/critical care training at Shriner's Hospital for Children in Galveston. Her clinical practice focuses on acute burn care, critical care in burns, and burn reconstruction. Dr. Cochran has a particular interest in advancing the clinical care of frostbite p... Read More

Specialties:

Burn Care, Burn Surgery, Critical Care, Critical Care Nutrition, Frostbite, Telemedicine

Locations:

University Hospital
Burn Center
801-581-3050

Specialties:

Physical Therapy

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Giavonni Lewis, FACS, MD

Patient Rating:

4.8

4.8 out of 5

Dr. Giavonni Lewis is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Utah Hospital and Clinics. She received her general surgery training at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, IL. Her specialties include acute burn care, burn surgery and reconstruction, trauma, and emergency general surgery. Additionally, she has formal trainin... Read More

Specialties:

Burn Care, Burn Surgery, Critical Care, Frostbite, Telemedicine

Locations:

University Hospital
Burn Center
801-581-3050

Specialties:

Physical Therapy

Locations:

University Hospital
Burn Therapy
801-581-2132

Stephen E. Morris, MD

Patient Rating:

4.8

4.8 out of 5

Dr. Morris is the Medical Director of the University of Utah Burn Center and immediate past director of the Trauma Center for over 15 years during which time he guided the center to become the first Level One Trauma Center in the intermountain West and was appointed president of the Utah State Committee on Trauma and the chair of the Utah State Tra... Read More

Specialties:

Burn Care, Burn Surgery, Critical Care, Frostbite, Telemedicine

Locations:

University Hospital
Burn Center
801-581-3050

Lee S. Moss, FNP, MS, APRN, ANP

Lee Moss, MS, APRN, ANP-C, FNP-BC, CWS, FAANP is a Nurse Practitioner at the University of Utah Burn Outpatient Clinic. He provides comprehensive treatment for all types of burn injuries, frostbite, and other acute and chronic wounds. He provides outpatient wound care and follow up care for patients who have been recently discharged from the Burn T... Read More

Specialties:

Adult Nurse Practitioner, Burn Care, Family Nurse Practitioner, Frostbite, Wound Healing

Locations:

University Hospital
General Surgery, Outpatient Burn Clinic
801-581-3050

Specialties:

Physical Therapy

Locations:

University Hospital
Burn Therapy
801-581-2132

Locations

University of Utah Hospital

50 N Medical Dr
Salt Lake City, Utah 84132

801-581-2700