Burn injuries pose an array of serious psychological issues for patients and families. In addition to the shock and stress of being acutely injured, patients may face changes in appearance and threats to self-esteem, adherence to sometimes painful treatments and therapy, and the boredom of a long hospital stay. During the hospital stay and after discharge family roles may shift, parents may feel responsible for the injury, and siblings may feel guilty or slighted. The burned child may be more clingy than usual, or experience tantrums more often. Relaxation training and distraction techniques help children manage the pain that can come with treatments and therapy, counseling and coping strategies help patients and families cope with behavior changes and integrate back into the community and home life.
“All kinds of issues surface, and intervening early is critical,” says health psychologist Heather Powell “It’s just not enough to save a life. Patients and families have to deal with a new life and all the adjustments and changes it brings.