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news News Friday, January 10, 2020 Friday, January 10, 2020 12:13 PM - Friday, January 10, 2020 12:13 PM

New burn injury research: Looking beyond the short term

New burn injury research: Looking beyond the short term

Due to recent extraordinary medical and technological advancements in burn treatment, the rate of survival among children with burns has increased dramatically since Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston opened in the 1960s. In the past, researchers put great emphasis on the acute treatment of the injury, as patients with significant burns were unable to recover without immediate life-saving interventions like skin grafts and critical care support.

Burn injuries are traumatic for the child and their family in both the short and long term; they can bend the trajectory of a patient’s life tremendously and influence what the patient can or cannot achieve in the future. We can observe now, as these children grow up and develop into adults, the unique physical, psychological and social challenges that eventually arise due to their injuries.

As the only exclusively pediatric, verified burn center in New England, the Boston Shriners Hospital has been a trailblazer in defining and measuring what happens to patients after their burns are initially treated. Our research team has been studying these outcomes over the last 25 years. Colleen M Ryan, M.D., FACS, serves as the clinical director at the Boston-Harvard Burn Injury Model System, with the Boston Shriners Hospital being a main participating site. “A burn injury evolves from an acute illness to a chronic condition, and it’s important to recognize that while these children do well in terms of survival, they face persistent challenges in quality of life that we can help them with, from infancy through adulthood,” Ryan said.

Dr. Ryan is currently working on several studies where she and her team research these long-term outcomes, with the hope that the rehabilitation and recovery process for child burn survivors can be made easier for patients and their families.

The Preschool LIBRE and School-Aged LIBRE (Life Impact Burn Recovery Evaluation) studies focus on the impact of burn injuries on physical and emotional health, as well as psychological and social development of the child. The studies aim to evaluate different long-term burn outcomes by measuring recovery post-injury through a questionnaire that parents can fill out online. Parent participation in these studies helps us help others.

“The thought is that if we can measure it, we can improve it,” Dr. Ryan said. With the ability to track and monitor recovery, clinicians can determine how, when and which therapies would be most beneficial to each child.

Learn more about the Preschool LIBRE and School-Aged LIBRE Studies and see if you are eligible to participate.