This is a part of the Hot Topic podcast series from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center on Sexuality and Intimacy After Burn Injury. Dr. Radha Holavanahalli, researcher, discusses ways to support emotional intimacy during the acute phase after burn injury.

Radha Holavanahalli, Ph.D.

Co-Principal Investigator

North Texas Burn Rehabilitation Model System

For burn survivors who are going through this kind of severe trauma that deeply affects them, physically and emotionally, one would think that intimacy would play a very significant role in their lives, even as they are going through their treatment during acute hospital stay.

And that is when, I think, professionals can go that one further step and not just teach the caregivers or the family members who will be trained to do the wound care or help them exercise. To also teach them about, to stop and take a few moments to be intimate with this other person that they’re caring for.

Examples of maintaining intimacy would be for the two individuals who are in that relationship, sometimes even just gazing into each other’s eyes. Just a smile and just holding hands, just running your hand on the other person.

You can look for ways in which you can share that emotion, that connection. Say they have dressing on their face or their hands, they’re not able to feel each other. Just a wink, just a smile, you know, anything that can show that that connection is still there.

That is such a good feeling when you show that connection to that other person. It helps in their recovery, too, for both. They both feel good emotionally. And so you feel that you’re in it together.

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