Using telehealth to support therapy provision to children in regional Victoria with hand burns

Ms Ioanna Coutsouvelis1, Ms Rose  Biggins1, Dr Susan Greaves1

1The Royal Children’s Hospital, Parkville, Australia


Introduction: The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) Burns clinic is a tertiary multidisciplinary clinic with Occupational Therapy (OT) required during both the acute and later stages of healing. Therapy includes thermoplastic splints, scar management and implementation of exercise programs; the ultimate goal to maximise hand function for participation in daily living activities.

Of the 227 children who presented to RCH with new hand or wrist burns in 2016, 34% were from regional or rural areas. Follow up appointments involves families travelling long distances with associated time, costs and interruption to family routines.

This project aims to increase provision of interventions with families and by regional/rural OT through the use of Telehealth mediated assistance.


An audit of Burns clinic records identifies children from regional/rural areas who receive OT only follow-up at RCH. Children with local OT services available are referred for ongoing therapy with support provided by RCH OTs via Assisted Telehealth.

Un-assisted Telehealth is offered where local services are unavailable or have been declined and an in-person review with a clinician is not deemed to be clinically required.

Results: Data reported includes: number of telehealth reviews completed; corresponding travel time and kilometres saved; family and regional clinician satisfaction with telehealth mediated assistance.

Clinical Implications: Telehealth mediated assistance for OT management of children with hand burns living in regional/rural areas reduces burden of travel, supports local therapists to develop skills in managing paediatric hand burns and increases efficiency of RCH OT services.

Ioanna Coutsouvelis is an occupational therapist at The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne. She is primarily working in hand therapy with paediatric burns and plastics patients. She is currently completing a project to implement assisted telehealth for rural/regional children with hand injuries.


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