Physical and Psychologic Rehabilitation Outcomes for Young Adults Burned as Children

Christine P. Baker, William J. Russell, Walter Meyer, Patricia Blakeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Baker CP, Russell WJ, Meyer W III, Blakeney P. Physical and psychologic rehabilitation outcomes for young adults burned as children. Objective: To report physical and psychologic outcomes for young adult survivors of pediatric burns. Design: Prospective, correlational study. Setting: Acute and rehabilitation pediatric burn care facility. Participants: Eighty-three young adult survivors of pediatric burns, who were 18 to 28 years of age, with total body surface area (TBSA) burns of 30% or greater, and were at least 2 years postburn. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: Physical outcomes were assessed by muscle strength tests, grip and pinch measurements, mobility levels, and self-care (activities of daily living) skills. Psychologic outcomes included behavioral problems, personality disorder, and incidence of psychiatric illness. An individually administered Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnosis, based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, for psychiatric diagnosis, was used to assess mental health, and behavioral problems were assessed with the Young Adult Self-Report. Participants reported educational achievement, employment status, state of transition from family of origin (home) to independent living, and pair bonding. The Short-Form 36-Item Health Survey and the Quality of Life Questionnaire were used to assess each participant's self-reported general health and quality of life. Results: The majority of subjects had physical and psychologic outcomes that were within the normal range when compared with age-mates who had not experienced burns. The areas that were most likely to be impaired involved peripheral strength (wrist and grip). These deficits affected some self-care skills and correlated with TBSA. Standardized diagnostic interviews showed that greater than 50% of subjects qualified for a psychiatric diagnosis, with anxiety disorders as the most frequently occurring diagnosis. There were few significant correlations of the physical measurements or self-care skills with the burn size, psychologic problems, or social outcomes, and none appeared to be clinically important. Conclusions: Most of the people in this sample were functioning physically and psychosocially within normal limits as they reached adulthood. Although they appeared to function well as measured by standardized assessments, there were indications of private suffering that suggested they may not be functioning at an optimal level. The findings suggest that rehabilitation professionals could improve outcomes by including programs to develop overall muscle strength in severely burned children and by addressing concerns related to anxiety and other symptoms of psychologic distress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S57-S64
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number12 SUPPL. 2
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Burns
  • Child psychiatry
  • Diagnosis
  • Outcomes research
  • Quality of life
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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