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Children who have had a significant burn usually start having physiotherapy (often called physio) early in their treatment. The main reasons for having physio are to:
Physiotherapists may use splints, pillows and and custom made wedges to position your childs joints whilst in bed. The purpose of careful positioning is to prevent or reduce the joints from becoming stiff or contracting. Orthotists are also involved in providing some of the wedges, splints and braces to maintain these positions. The physiotherapist will provide you with a regimen/program of the correct resting positions and, together with the nursing staff, assist you with following the program.
If your child has sustained an inhalation burn or remains resting in bed for a long time the physiotherapist may teach your child deep breathing exercises or blowing games. These will help to prevent respiratory complications.
It is essential your child regularly stretches the affected joints. This is often done with splints and positioning in the beginning. If your child has had skin grafts, the stretching exercises may not start until the grafts have healed.
Bed exercises are important in the early days and weeks of recovery to keep your child's muscles working. The effects of pain and any surgery will be considered by the physiotherapist when planning exercises.
Your child will be helped to start moving and walking as soon as possible. This depends on which areas of the body have been burned. If your child has had skin grafts, these exercises may not start until the grafts have started to heal.
The aim is to have a scar which is as flat, supple (ie able to stretch) and as soft as possible. It can take one to two years for a scar to mature. This depends on:
There are some special dressings that are often used to help reduce the development of scars:
The physiotherapist will assess your child's burns and scars and provide the best treatment.
Your child may need ongoing physiotherapy (physio) and rehabilitation (often called rehab). This can be done at the RCH or somewhere closer to your home.
Your child's physiotherapist will give you information and instructions for ongoing care at home including exercises, positioning, stretches and bandages or garments to wear. Talk to the physiotherapist and ask about anything you want to know or don't quite understand.
Developed by the RCH Burns Unit. First
published in October 2007. Updated November 2010.