At some point in life, nearly everyone will experience a burn. It may occur when absentmindedly handling hot pots and pans in the kitchen, taking a hot bowl out of the microwave, or tasting hot coffee. Fortunately, many of these burns are minor: they may cause redness to the skin, but they do not blister. That type of burn is a first-degree burn. They are often treated with pain-relievers and first-aid measures.
More serious burns occur with blistering (second-degree), full-thickness skin damage (third-degree), and full-thickness skin damage plus damage to underlying tendons, joints, and bone (fourth-degree). Severe burn injuries may occur due to hot liquids, gas, flames, electricity, and chemicals. According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, second-degree burns of the hands and forearms may benefit from splinting while the wounds are healing.
A hand therapist can fabricate custom splints for patients that can hold the affected body part(s) in a position that prevents the joints from becoming too stiff. Full-thickness burns (third and fourth-degrees) may require a surgical procedure called skin grafting, where healthy skin from another part is moved to cover the damaged area where the burn destroyed the skin. A hand therapist can fabricate a custom splint to maintain the affected body part(s) in a position that will help the skin grafts heal and prevent the joints from becoming too stiff.
Your hand therapist may:
Burn injuries can have a significant impact on an individual’s physical and psychological health and their social life and work. Ultimately, your hand therapist is not just concerned with increasing how far a joint will move or the strength of a muscle but also concerned with addressing whatever factors following a burn are limiting you from returning to everyday life and the activities you love.
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1. American Society for Surgery of the Hand. (2014). How To Treat A Burn. Handcare. https://www.assh.org/handcare/condition/how-to-treat-a-burn
2. Cleveland Clinic. (2021, July 21). Skin Graft. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/21647-skingraft#:~:text=a%20skin%20graft%3F-,Skin%20grafting%20is%20a%20type%20of%20surgery.,to%20the%20skin%20around%20it.
3. Aghajanzade, M., Momeni, M., Niazi, M., Ghorbani, H., Saberi, M., Kheirkhah, R., Rahbar, H., & Karimi, H. (2019, June 30). Effectiveness of incorporating occupational therapy in rehabilitation of hand burn patients. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6733213/
4. UPMC. (n.d.). Joint and Muscle Contractures. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.upmc.com/services/orthopaedics/conditions-treatments/contractures-and-stiffness#:~:text=A%20contracture%20occurs%20when%20your,%2C%20casts%2C%20and%20physical%20therapy.