700 Children's Blog

Burn Injuries in Children: How Occupational Therapy Can Help

Apr 04, 2019
Burn Injuries in Children

The first thing that may come to mind when thinking of what causes a burn may be fire or a hot stove, but it is important to know that burns can be caused by a wide variety of things no matter the season. According to the World Health Organization, burns are the fifth most common cause of non-fatal childhood injuries, so it’s important to be educated on other potential causes of burns.

Here are some common causes of burns in children:

  • Fireworks
  • Sparklers
  • Lighters
  • Camp fire
  • Sun burn
  • Kitchen burns: spilling hot soup or beverage, bumping into parent carrying hot pan or mug, grabbing hot spoon from parent’s bowl, spilling hot foot when trying to remove from the microwave
  • Touching hot fireplace glass surround or wood burning stove
  • Touching candles, hot wax pots
  • Touching hot hair styling tools
  • Touching running treadmill or vacuum
  • Harsh chemicals

How can occupational therapy help?

Children with burn injuries may be seen by occupational therapists in a wide variety of settings including inpatient, outpatient developmental, hand therapy and burn clinic. Some children with severe burns require inpatient, hospitalized care for more intensive medical treatment, then are transitioned to outpatient care as they heal.

Children are often recommended for frequent follow up in an outpatient burn clinic for assessment and ongoing care with a team which includes physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, psychologists and occupational or physical therapists who specialize in burn care treatment. Occupational therapists work with the rest of the burn team to address wound healing and scar management as well as to help limit functional impairment whenever possible so a child can return to normal activity. 

An occupational therapist might suggest specific exercises and age appropriate play activities to encourage motion of injured areas, fabricate splints to stretch involved joints and limit contractures, recommend massage to soften scarring, and/or order compression garments to flatten raised scarring.

If you suspect your child has been burned, it is important to seek medical attention by contacting your child’s pediatrician or taking your child to an urgent care or emergency department for early appropriate care.

For more information about occupational therapy services at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, click here.

Featured Expert

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Brittney Hardin, MOT, OTR/L
Physical Therapy - Sports and Orthopedic

Brittney’s focus at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is outpatient hand therapy, treating and making custom splints for patients with a variety of conditions ranging from burns and congenital differences to sports related upper extremity injuries. She loves seeing her patients master functional skills independently despite conditions or differences they have, and she also loves seeing her student athletes return to their favorite sport after injury.

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Beth Villanueva, OTD, OTR/L
Physical Therapy - Sports and Orthopedic

Beth Villanueva, OTD, OTR/L works with children with a variety of diagnoses and abilities to improve fine motor skills and overall independence. She has experience in both outpatient and inpatient settings. She has special interests in hand therapy, splinting, and burn rehabilitation. Beth enjoys serving on interdisciplinary care teams in Burn Clinic and Brachial Plexus Clinic.

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700 Children’s features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.