People who sustain burn injuries can experience reduced activity performance due to periods of immobilisation, ventilator dependence, the burn-related catabolic response, pain, limiting scars, muscle weakness and reduced fitness levels. High levels of fatigue may also be experienced. Many of these problems can be more noticeable after discharge from hospital.
It is recommended that individuals over 7 years of age should be evaluated for strength and cardiovascular performance. Any limitations can benefit from a structured, supervised resistance and/or aerobic program.
Research has shown that patients who had a structured exercise resistance program versus those who did not, required fewer invasive surgical procedures to improve range of movement (ROM). They also had greater aerobic capacity, muscle strength, and lean body mass, and returned to work sooner.
Exercise can help reduce contractures. Evidence suggests that exercise can be as effective as splinting in improving and keeping range of motion.
Splinting however, can be an important component of managing a scar. Splints are rigid and often made of thermoplastic material which is formed to the body. Splints are usually made especially for you by a therapist, or sometimes they are ready-made. Splints can be used to protect an area after a surgery. For scars near or over a joint you could need a splint if there is concern that you may lose movement. Splints can also be effective by providing a long and sustained stretch to scars that are already limiting movement at a joint. Splints are ofeten removed intermittently so that the splinted area can also be moved and exercised.
Exercise programs start in hospital; it’s very important to continue and progress your exercise program regularly after discharge from hospital. It is important to have continued input from a scar specialist physiotherapist who understands the impact of scar on your recovery and how your scar is likely to change over time. It can be important to continue the exercise program throughout the scar maturation process (up to 2 years).
Exercise therapy is advised for all patients with scar. The intensity and duration of exercise will depend on the scar and the time since injury.
There are no reported direct adverse effects linked to controlled exercise programs.