A burn is a specific type of wound caused by a thermal agent which can cause internal or external tissue damage ranging from mild tissue irritation to severe tissue damage and, if extensive or severe enough, death.
In a recently published article entitled, “Massage Helps Burn Survivors Rediscover Touch,” author and expert, Allison Payne, writes:
“More than 385,000 non-fatal burn injuries occurred in the United States in 2015, the latest year for which data is available, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) online database. For survivors of burns, recovery is a long, difficult, painful process that often involves multiple skin grafts and other surgeries,” adding that problems can persist long after the acute phase of the injury has passed and severely impact quality of life; Peck has seen these issues firsthand with many of her burn-survivor clients.
“Such problems include skin dryness, nerve damage (neuropathy), stiffness and restricted range of motion due to scar tissue, permanent disfigurement and extreme psychological trauma,” she writes.
Massage therapy is a valuable therapeutic complement to burn rehabilitation for several reasons. Over the years, several studies have suggested that massage therapy can reduce burn-related pain, itching and anxiety – both from the burn itself and during the healing of wounds.
For massage therapists who may be interested in training to work with the burn-survivor population, training does exist, though only in a few places in the U.S.
“Peck calls the form of bodywork she teaches Burn Scar Therapy; according to the Massage and Burn Scar Therapy Foundation website, her approach is a combination of manual lymph drainage, craniosacral therapy, myofascial scar release and therapeutic massage,” she writes.
Working with burn survivors is not a path for everybody. In addition to having compassion and being dedicated to helping those who have gone through the ordeal of a third-degree burn, there is a lot to learn about the emotional and physical repercussions of severe burn recovery. Because bodywork can boost body image, improve comfort levels with touch, reduce anxiety, minimize pain and increase circulation to diminish itching, numbness and edema, massage therapists who choose to work in burn rehabilitation can truly make a difference in their clients’ lives.
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