The Enemy You Can’t See: What is the Effect of Minor Burn Injuries on Return to Physical Activity at 3 and 12 Months Post Injury?

Ms Stephanie  Wicks1, Ms  Katherine  Alava Bravo2, Ms Hannah Graham2, Ms Nadishika  Gunawardena2, Dr  Verity  Pacey2

1The Children’s Hospital At Westmead, Westmead, Australia, 2Macquarie University, North Ryde, Australia


Introduction: Burns are a common childhood injury which may significantly impact a child’s long-term physical wellbeing. Studies to date report on severe burns but few have investigated the impact of a minor injury on recovery of function. This study aims to quantify the physical activity levels and ability of children and identify the perceived barriers to returning to physical activity in this group.
Methods: Children and adolescents (5-18yrs) treated for scarring from a burn injury to the lower limb at a specialist referral centre area enrolled. Each participant is assessed at 3 and 12 months post injury and questionnaires determining activity levels and perceived barriers to physical activity are completed at each visit. Assessment of physical functioning includes; strength (30 Second STS test); balance (BOT- 2nd Edition, Star Excursion Balance test) and physical fitness (6MWT).
Results: Data will be reported on all participants (currently n=50) 3 months post burn. Preliminary data has shown 50% of the participants reported difficulties participating in physical activity post burn and only 15% of children reported physical activity levels of recommended daily levels. Participants 3 months post burn had significantly reduced performance on the 6MWT (mean difference -91m, 95% CI-144.9 – -38.1m, p<0.001) and 30 Second STS test (mean difference -6 reps, 95% CI -8.3 – -3.5 reps, p<0.001). Data is currently being collected for the 12 month visits and will be reported on.
Conclusions: Preliminary data suggests that both return to physical activity and physical functioning is significantly affected by minor burn injuries.


Stephanie is a senior physiotherapist with over 8 years of experience in paediatric burns rehabilitation. She has an interest in clinical research and completed a Churchill Fellowship in 2017 investigating international strategies to improve access to therapy for rural paediatric patients.

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