Burns are one of the most traumatic injuries the human body can endure. Multiple body systems are simultaneously involved. Depending on the severity, burns can appear deceivingly non-threatening while doing most of their dirty work beneath the damaged skin. Damaged blood vessels dilate causing inflammation and edema are typically listed among many other life-threatening problems. Once the patient is stabilized and undergoes graft surgery, the rehabilitation work begins. Burn therapy is designed to help victims of serious burns recover so they can resume living life to the fullest. Below we’ll take a look at the importance of burn therapy and why it might be the perfect specialty for you!
Around 40,000 people are hospitalized for burn injuries each year. Over 60% of the estimated U.S. acute hospitalizations related to burn injury were admitted to 128 burn centers. Such centers now average over 200 annual admissions for burn injury and skin disorders requiring similar treatment.
Burn Therapy For Critical Cases
The Role of Therapists in Burn Rehab
Following surgery, the possibility of webbing between fingers and toes along with the presence of scar tissue and its potential to prevent debilitating contractures, especially in joints. This requires the skilled touch of a physical therapist. Patients with the most severe (third and fourth degree) burns are the ones who most often require intensive physical therapy (often called “physiotherapy” for those traveling physical therapist considering assignments in English speaking countries overseas). If not prevented through rehabilitation, skin, joint, muscle, tendon and ligament contractures can have a devastating effect on a burn patient’s life. Rigid, contracted limbs can easily become the end of mobility and independence for patients.
Speech therapists and speech-language pathologists are also an integral part of the burn patient’s treatment team in the case of smoke inhalation injuries. Occupational therapists have a vital role in helping burn patients relearn activities of daily living. These therapists will work with patients to get acclimated to daily life while recovering from a major burn injury. In some cases, patients can lose mobility or feeling in various limbs. It’s important that they use therapy to ensure that they can navigate daily life and perform simple tasks. There are a variety of different therapists that can help with the burn rehab process.
How to Become a Burn Therapist
Burn Therapy is a very specialized role, but it’s actually pretty easy for an allied health professional to become certified. The American Burn Association offers a Burn Therapist Certification that will give you the ability to properly treat burn victims. You must first complete the application and the registration fee. Next, you must ensure that you meet the criteria needed for your Burn Therapy Certificate. You will then be reviewed, and if accepted, you’ll be required to complete a portfolio application. Once this application is completed, you will receive your Burn Therapist Certification. A burn therapy certificate will not only give you the opportunity to help those in need, but it will be a great addition to your resume as well.
Burn Therapy at Home
You’ll often end up recommending therapy at home for your patients or making visits to help with out-patient therapy. Burn therapy at home is essential for those undergoing the rehabilitation process. Most patients will only spend a few weeks in the hospital. The rehab process will be done at home or in specialized rehab facilities for the remainder of the process. Treatment can consist of continued scar management, splinting, strengthening, and practicing daily activities or work-related tasks. Visits to the multidisciplinary burn clinic on a regular basis will help to identify problems that may occur during the often difficult adjustment period after discharge from the hospital. As an allied health worker, you’ll most likely be working with a variety of other doctors to ensure that your patients are getting the best treatment possible.
Traveling physical therapists, travel occupational therapists and travel speech therapists all have the opportunity to have a positive and permanent effect on the lives of burn patients around the world. With the average rehabilitation time for serious burns being 18 months to two years, there are undoubtedly many opportunities for assignments in this area of patient care.
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