What To Expect When Recovering From A Burn Injury


Rehabilitation from a burn injury can be an especially difficult process. Burn injuries can result in significant physical and psychological complications that are time consuming, but possible, to recover from.

Pain Management

The first few days after a burn injury are, as expected, the most difficult. Patients are at risk of going into shock and the risk of infection is always a great concern. It is very important to begin rehabilitation on day one of the injury because delaying recovery will make it much more difficult to do so later. Pain management with analgesic drugs is essential to recovery so that the patient can be more comfortable during dressing changes and physical therapy. These can be anything from aspirin or Excedrin to OxyContin.


The first steps in recovery are generally recovering lost fluids, checking for other injuries (both internally and externally) and, if needed, skin graft surgery or other surgeries (depending on the severity of the burn). Skin graft surgery is quite painful and the graft will need to be replaced every few days. The purpose of skin grafts is to cover the wound to help prevent infection, speed up the healing process, and reduce scarring. Scarring is not only cosmetically disfiguring but it can also reduce the range of motion (ROM) of joints and limbs. Compression garments may also be used to decrease scarring. Splints and anti-contracture positioning will most likely be used to maintain the integrity of the joint or tendon. This is important to influence tissue length and to limit the loss of range of motion due to scar development.

Burn Injury

Physical Therapy

To limit of the loss of range of motion, physical therapy is vital. Physical therapy will normally consist of range of motion exercises, soft tissue massage, moisturizing of the scars, and the use of pressure wraps while the burns and grafts heal. These exercises will sometimes need to be done hourly to prevent the scar tissue or grafts from tightening and contracting, which make movement difficult. After making headway in physical therapy, occupational therapy usually begins. Physical therapy is needed to regain strength and balance while occupational therapy helps prepare the patient for resuming daily activities such as bathing and dressing. It should be expected that soft tissue massage and range of motion exercises will need to continue for at least one year after the injury. It is crucial to recovery to continue with the exercises at home that will be provided by the rehabilitation therapists. Outpatient therapy sessions may also be needed. Regular assessments by therapists and doctors will be needed to check on the recovery of the injuries.

Mental Health

Psychological effects are also a concern for burn victims. These can begin as soon as the injury occurs or even years later. PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a common disorder that burn victims suffer from. Feelings of depression and anxiety are symptoms of PTSD. Some people might even experience flashbacks of the event that led to the burn. Depression and anxiety are also common for burn victims because of the possible change in their physical appearance.

Rehabilitation from a burn is a long process, both physically and mentally. It starts on day one and can last years. It requires the effort of the patient and a team of medical professionals. It is not always an easy process, but with proper support and patience, the patient can make a recovery. If you feel your burn injury could have been prevented or was the fault of another person, it’s best to contact burn attorneys such as Fuller, Willingham, Fuller & Carter. An attorney can help you get legal matters settled so that you can focus on your health and recovery.