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 Why Exercise May Be Hard After Burn Injury.

Jeffrey Schneider, M.D.

Project Director, Boston-Harvard Burn Injury Model System Center

Medical Director, Burn & Trauma, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

Exercise is hard for people with burn injury for a couple different reasons. For one, you know, I think the psychological effects of the injury can make it so people are feeling down or depressed, you know, or maybe hesitant to get out in public and their sense of their body image and, you know, facing strangers. We know this is a challenge for a lot of people.

Some other consequences of people’s burn injury we know are also factors that might make it challenging for them to engage in an exercise program. These consequences could be things like pain or itch, which are both very common complications of burn injury. We know that itch is close to being ubiquitous in burn survivors even years after their injury. And pain and itch are obviously consequences that, you know, make it — you feel uncomfortable maybe when you exercise.

The itch can be exacerbated by being hot and sweaty and pain with different movements of your body. And so finding ways to make people comfortable enough that they’re able to engage in the exercise is an important part of, you know, a clinician helping their patient find exercise that works for them.

And sometimes exercise involves going to the gym or being in the public, you know, wearing shorts and a t‑shirt at the gym when you have burn scars and things that, you know, you might not feel entirely comfortable with other people staring at you and how other people engage you. So I think that’s a part of why exercise can be a challenge.

The other is that, you know, to engage in an exercise or wellness regimen involves a little bit of motivation, organization, having the right resources and knowing where to go to get these sort of interventions and how to access them, and sometimes it involves someone else helping you and guiding you in those choices. And those choices aren’t exactly cookie cutter. So, you know, what might be a great exercise intervention for one person might not appeal to somebody else.

And so it’s our job as clinicians to help people find the right exercise interventions for them. And there’s, you know, such a wide variety of different activities that can meet this exercise criteria that, you know, I feel l pretty confident that we get to know our patients well and really work with them to help find the right interventions for them, there are lots of options.

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