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Caring for the Whole Patient – and Beyond – After Burns – Temple Burn Center

NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — A holistic approach — treating a patient’s body, mind and soul — has become a staple of many medical disciplines.

It also improves burn care at the Temple Burn Center.

“Understanding that burns are complex, that burns can also have lasting effects,” says Stephanie Velez, DPT, wound care specialist at Temple Burn Center

Velez Watson says that while burns happen in an instant, they are often life changing.

So Temple’s team is looking beyond the injury.

“We look at all aspects of the patient’s life before the injury, and how it affects them directly in relation to the trauma, their diagnoses, and then how will it affect them in the future,” notes Melissa Loughran, MSN , Director of the Center for Nursing Services.

Physical recovery alone can be long.

“It could actually go on for years, even on an outpatient basis, between therapy and reconstructive surgery, laser surgery,” notes Velez Watson.

This can prolong emotional trauma and adaptation.

“How did that happen, you know, thinking back and forth about the injury,” she adds.

Stretching is essential to prevent scars from tightening, but it is often painful.

So Temple uses VR games as both a distraction and a therapy.

“They’re pretty much immersed. It could be a game,” but it’s a lot more, says Velez Watson

“Like we have one in Jurassic Park, we have some in different environments that they can be in,” she says, adding, “Games can even help them with their range of motion as well.”

Emotionally, burn patients go through phases similar to the grieving process.

Thus, staff members can be a constant stabilizer.

“Sometimes their best friend, support person, spouse, mom, or dad can’t get online,” Loughran observes.

Patients and their families are connected with resources to facilitate adjustment to a different life.

“It could be related to their self-image. They are in their activities of daily living, their jobs, and their daily interactions with loved ones,” she says.

Temple also addresses important factors affecting recovery after discharge, such as transportation to appointments and access to healthy food.

“We’ve found a way to get food stamps for them. We’re working to have farm-to-table availability,” adds Loughran.

There are also support groups for patients and caregivers.

These initiatives help the Temple Burn Center stay in touch with burn patients long after they are discharged.

In fact, they often come back to visit.

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