Burn Recovery Through Burn Therapy

Burn therapy is an essential part of the healing process and focuses on getting patients back to their previous lifestyle and activity level. Our specialist team will help you:

  • gain strength,
  • endurance, and
  • range of motion.

The therapy team consists of occupational and physical therapists, and rehabilitation aides. The burn therapy team will assess your condition and create a customized rehabilitation plan. We may consult a speech language pathologist.

Therapy In the Hospital

Most patients will see the burn therapy team once or twice a day while they are in the hospital. Burn therapy can be done at the bedside to accommodate those who are sedated or on a ventilator.

Exercise

Exercise stimulates circulation, reduces swelling, and maintains strength and functional movement. It also helps to prevent scar contractures (a tightening of the skin). Exercise may prevent medical conditions, such as blood clots, pneumonia, and bone density loss.

Individual exercises may be posted in patient rooms and may need to be performed several times a day. As healing progresses, therapy may be done in the burn therapy gym using specialized equipment to achieve rehabilitation goals. Education for continued home or outpatient therapy will be provided.

Once able, patients will be given a range of motion, strengthening, activity, and mobility program. A therapist will help with this program until the patient or their loved one feels comfortable and is able to manage independently. Patients are also encouraged to perform normal activities such as eating, dressing, and walking as soon as able.

At Home

Our therapists follow patient progress and therapy needs after discharge from the hospital. Discharged patients will work with therapists at the burn outpatient clinic as needed. For those who live outside the Salt Lake Valley, they can coordinate care with physical and occupational therapists in the area

Burn Scars

Factors that determine scarring include:

  • depth of burn,
  • healing time,
  • body part burned, and
  • genetic tendency to form scar tissue.

Two common complications from a burn injury are hypertrophic (or raised) scars and scar contractures (or tightening). Burn therapists will evaluate for scarring and make recommendations for treatment. Scars may require compression, stretching, and scar massage.

Over time, treated scars may become soft, pliable, and more uniform in color.

Patient at U of U Health Burn Center getting burn therapy

Splints for Burn Contractures

A burn wound will heal in the position it is held most often. This can cause contractures. Contractures are formed when new skin that has lost elasticity forms across joints, making it difficult to stretch. The contracture period is most active during the first six to nine months.

For this reason, it is important to maintain proper positioning during rest, which therapists achieve through:

  • custom splints,
  • casts,
  • arm boards,
  • elevation, and
  • pillow placement.

Splints may also be used to protect fresh grafts. If your splint is causing pain in a specific area, please let the burn therapy team know so they can assess the splint and make adjustments.

Compression Garments & Anti Burn Scar Support (ABSS)

Compression garments or anti burn scar support (ABSS) are made to apply constant pressure to help scars to be flatter and smoother. Initially, patients may require temporary compression.

Silicone and foam inserts may be needed underneath garments to apply additional pressure to a specific area. This flattening should help with joint movements and function.

ABSS

ABSS are measured by our burn therapy team and custom made for each person. They come in a variety of colors. When wounds are healed, compression garments are to be worn 23 hours a day for the entire healing process, often for up to 18 months.

Burn Therapy Team

Contact Us

Questions about burn therapy? Call us at 801-581-2132.

Fax: 801-581-8446

Verified burn center certification

Verified Burn Center Experts

Why does it matter that we are a verified burn center? The American Burn Association and the American College of Surgeons designed a rigorous review program that ensures verified centers offer the best care for their patients. This includes the whole patient experience from the time of injury through rehabilitation.

It also means we meet the highest quality of care available because we meet these high quality standards. The standards are for personnel qualifications, facilities resources, organizational structure, and medical care services.