Strength, motor proficiency and quality of life in children after burn injury

Dr Treya Long1,2,4, Matthew Cooper3, Tanesha  Dimanopoulos1,2, Victoria Shoesmith1,2, Dr Mark Fear1,4, Professor Fiona Wood1,2,4, Dr Lisa Martin1,4

1Fiona Wood Foundation, Perth, Australia, 2Burn Service of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, 3Telethon Kids Institute, Perth, Australia, 4University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia


Burn-injured children are at risk of long-term physical and psychosocial consequences that may require hospitalisation (Duke et al., 2015, Duke et al., 2018, Duke et al., 2016, Duke et al., 2014). Routine follow-up is integral for early identification of at-risk individuals and subsequent intervention. This study aimed to evaluate the grip strength test, timed up-and-go (TUG) and paediatric quality of life inventory (PedsQL) as screening measures in paediatric burns care. Clinical and outcome data were collected from 130 children (58 male; age 9.8±3.4y) attending scar clinics. Regression models were used to assess risk factors for poor outcomes. Moderate grip strength impairment was observed (right hand (RH), -1.9±5.2; left hand (LH), -1.5±5.1) compared to normative data. Dominant hand burns had little effect on same-sided grip strength (RH: 0.55 (-1.5 to 2.6); LH: -1.3 (-6.4 to 3.9)). Non-dominant hand burns moderately impacted grip strength in the dominant hand (RH burn to LH dominant child, -8.9 (-19.50 to 1.79); LH burn to RH dominant child, -2.53 (-4.6 to -0.5)). Burn-injured children performed the TUG faster than healthy children by 1.7±0.9sec. Mean PedsQL scores were normal, however parent reports indicated that 11.6% of children fell below the cut-off value for Physical Function and 20.5% for Psychosocial Function domains. Child reports indicated 21.7% had Psychosocial Function scores below cut-off values. Positive correlations existed between grip strength and PedsQL scores. Most children recover their physical and psychosocial function post-burn injury; however, some may require additional physical rehabilitation and psychosocial support.


Treya is a burns research associate, adjunct research fellow and accredited exercise physiologist. Her PhD explored the use of exercise in the diagnosis and treatment of long-term and late effects of childhood cancer, which lead to the development of a new cardiac rehabilitation service for at-risk children. Treya’s passion for exercise medicine has since extended into the burns unit at Perth Children’s Hospital where she is currently investigating how a burn-injury in childhood impacts strength recovery and physical functioning later in life. Outside of research, Treya practices clinically as an exercise physiologist on the acute inpatient mental health ward.

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