700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Healing Burn Injuries with Recreational Therapy

Feb 05, 2024
children walking with backpacks

Did you know that approximately 437,000 children get burned each year? A burn injury occurs every 65 seconds to a child in the United States.

Leisure is a crucial way to help your child heal after a burn injury. Leisure outlets are any activities your child enjoys that are safe, legal, and healthy and are a key part of childhood development. Leisure outlets address the cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and mental well-being of a young person. Leisure education can be key to preventing a burn injury by reducing risky behaviors, finding outlets to safely enjoy time with others, improving one’s self-esteem, and if a burn injury has occurred, finding ways to return to home and school.

Burn injuries can be the result of an accident or unsafe behaviors. Some common causes for burn injuries include:

  • Accidents while cooking
  • Accidents related to bonfires
  • Accidents related to street racing
  • Eating food that is too hot
  • Hot liquids (ingestion, spills, baths/showers)
  • Some social media challenges
  • Throwing gasoline on a fire
  • Unsafe handling of fireworks

It is important for parents and caregivers to recognize that children and adolescents like to take risks. Prevention of injury, or further burn injuries, requires specific, targeted skills that can be challenging for young people to master. Those skills include:

  • Problem-solving: being aware of their surroundings and safety.
  • Impulsivity control: taking time to think before doing something.
  • Handling peer pressure: saying “no” to friends or peers because they don’t feel safe.

A burn injury can affect your child’s life in many ways. It’s important to find strategies that help them cope with their thoughts and feelings. Leisure outlets can help heal their body and mind. When children or adolescents experience a burn injury, it is important to recognize there is more to recovery than the burn itself. Common impacts from the injury you may see in your child include:

  • A decline in leisure participation
  • Barriers to returning to their community
  • Lowered self-esteem
  • Missing school or school-related activities
  • Reduced socialization
  • Reduced trust with caregivers
  • Reduced coping and stress management strategies

If your child displays poor decision-making, risky behaviors or is affected from any of the common impacts by a burn injury, they may benefit from seeing a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) with the Therapeutic Recreation department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. A CTRS can address the unique needs of your child while promoting healthy leisure participation and skill development that can help prevent a burn injury from occurring. To request an outpatient Therapeutic Recreation referral, contact your primary care physician or healthcare provider.

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Featured Expert

Tania Telford
Tania Telford, CTRS
Clinical Therapies

Tania Telford, CTRS, graduated from the University of Iowa and received her certified therapeutic recreation specialist certification in July 2020.

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Valerie Lazzara Mould, MA, CTRS-BH
Clinical Therapies

Valerie Lazzara Mould, MA, CTRS, started her career at the University of Toledo Medical Center, providing therapeutic recreation services in both the inpatient physical rehabilitation and psychiatry departments. Valerie is now employed full time at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in the Clinical Therapies Department, most specifically on the Inpatient Psychiatry Unit.

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Pediatric News You Can Use From America’s Largest Pediatric Hospital and Research Center

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.