This is a part of the Hot Topic podcast series from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center on Exercise After Burn Injury. Jeffrey Schneider, MD, Researcher, discusses Exercise and Autonomy.

Jeffrey Schneider, M.D.

Project Director, Boston-Harvard Burn Injury Model System Center

Medical Director, Burn & Trauma, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

I think one of the challenges of experiencing a severe burn injury that a lot of my patients have talked to me about is a loss of autonomy. And when people are in the hospital after a severe burn injury, they’re often there for weeks and months. And a lot of their daily life is controlled by others. They don’t even have the ability to say when they can eat, you know. They may have a machine breathing for them at a certain point.

And it gets to a point where it takes a while for them to even be able to do sort of basic tasks of daily living on their own. Sometimes even feeding themselves, walking, going to the bathroom, these are things that they’re unable to do initially. And so in a lot of ways engaging in an exercise program especially after going through such a big injury where you lose a lot of the sense of autonomy sort of brings that autonomy back to the burn survivor where they can sort of control what things that they want to do, what different exercise activities or wellness activities that interest them.

And that can begin in the hospital, in their rehabilitation phase whether they’re in a rehab hospital or seeking outpatient rehabilitation. And then, you know, it carries through to when they’re back in the community and living at home. So I think it’s important to find ways that we can give the burn survivor back that some sense of autonomy. I think this is one way we can do that.

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