Rehabilitation of Burn Scars


Severe burn scars can considerably hamper an individual's daily activities. In order to restore and maintain functional ability, physical and occupational therapists are often consulted and take part in the burn survivor's initial burn treatment. Short and long term goals are developed in order to reduce the occurrence of contractures and make sure the best range of motion is maintained. The aim of a burn survivor's rehabilitation is to return the individual to the best possible independent living without or with minimal loss of functional activity.

Immobilization, stiffness, scarring and contracture can be potential challenges in burn rehabilitation. Treatment is often a long process and success depends largely on patient and family education, understanding and involvement. Depending on the extent of a person's injury, there are many possible components to the burn survivor's rehabilitation. Below are some of the most common.

Pressure Therapy


When skin is damaged by a partial or full-thickness burn, the normal pressure of the epidermis exerted on the dermal, or underlying, layer of skin is removed. The lack of pressure causes scar tissue to rapidly generate in irregular patterns. This uncontrolled scarring can persist for months following a burn injury and it can worsen over time.

To minimize the scarring response to a burn, pressure is often applied to a healing wound in the form of pressure therapy. This involves a careful treatment of tight-fitting or restricting garments and bandages to the burned area. The garments are worn day and night until the wounds mature in order to avert extreme scarring.


There are areas where the pressure garments cannot offer the best compression. In these areas the therapist may use specially designed inserts. The inserts are custom made and are designed to tightly conform to different parts of the body in order to provide more uniform pressure. The are made from soft foams to hard plastics, and are worn under a individual's pressure garments.

Pressure Garments

Healthcare professionals use specifically designed pressure garments or elastic bandages to offer repeated and identical pressure over healing burns. The constricting nature of the garments mimics the pressure of healthy skin and reduces the development of irregular scarring. The most common methods are as follows:

  1. Custom-made elastic garments
  2. Elastic bandage wraps
  3. Tubular, sock-type pressure bandages

Scar Massage

Once burn scars mature enough in order to refrain from shearing, which is pulling away from healthy tissue, you might like to try scar massages. Scar massage can be built-in into your rehabilitation treatment. Repeated massages can help you preserve softer, more flexible tissue. It can also help avoid scar contractures. Scar massage can also lessen the itching and desensitize pain. Both are very difficulty for the burn survivor. Scar massage is usually performed two or more times a day and is occasionally combined with heat and lotion to increase tissue flexibility.

Exercise Therapy


Exercise is an vital part of burn rehabilitation. Taking part in a regular physical rehabilitation plan, setup by a therapist, can help the burn survivor progress functionally, maintain body strength and a positive attitude. As a burn survivor's rehabilitation moves forward, advanced exercises can be introduced in order to increase strength, motion and mobility. For many burn survivors, learning to walk again is the primary goal of their exercise program and a very special reward when that goal is reached. Walking, perhaps more than any other recovery, can help return a person to an active, independent lifestyle and emotionally positive lifestyle. Walking does not just enable an individual to move place to place, but it also helps prevent muscles from weakening and contracting.

Below is a list of other benefits of exercise therapy:

  1. Reduces swelling in the arms, hands, feet and legs.
  2. Improves joint motion and muscle strength.
  3. Increases your flexibility.
  4. Decreases the likelihood of having blood clots.
  5. Finally, exercise can increase your bone density.