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 Contractures.

Jeffrey Schneider, M.D.

Project Director, Boston-Harvard Burn Injury Model System Center

Medical Director, Burn & Trauma, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

So, what is a contracture? So, if someone is in a prolonged period of time where they’re not moving their own joints or they have an injury to an area of that joint from a burn, the natural inclination of the joint is to contract or bend over time. And if we don’t move that joint around while they’re sitting in the hospital in the hospital bed, they’re unable to move it on their own because of pain, discomfort, or being chemically sedated by being in the hospital, then it’s going to get stuck in this bent position.

And the treatment for that is, you know, getting it moving again. It sounds really simple, but it can be really difficult, and it takes a lot of hard work and time to get it to the point where it’s back to normal. You know, we accomplish that through various means, stretching and range of motion exercises. We can do things like casting people’s joints in a stretched position so it’s stretched for a prolonged period of time.

We can make splints to help them maintain this stretched position. But ultimately a lot of these things lead to exercise. So the more people are actually moving their joints on their own, that’s the best intervention. We revert to these other things like casting and stretching and splints for people who aren’t moving very much. And so ultimately the faster, the more we can get people up and moving, the better they’re going to do at sort of treating these contracted joints.

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