Pressure Garments Help Burn Patients Heal


Jeri Whalen sewing

“I enjoy providing a service that can have such a positive impact on how a patient looks and feels,” says Jeri Whalen, one of four technicians who design and fabricate pressure garments for children with burn injuries at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California.

When worn consistently, pressure garments help reduce the effects of scarring in patients with burn injuries. Jeri and her co-workers make hundreds and hundreds of pressure garments each year. Every garment is custom designed to meet the individual needs of the patient. Some fit small hands like a glove, others are worn as a body suit around the torso, and others are made to fit small arms and legs. Patients must wear them all day, every day for months.

“It is important to make pressure garments fit comfortably. If a patient has a favorite color, I will include that in the design. I want patients to feel good about wearing their pressure garments,” says Jeri.

Boy wearing a pressure garment on his arm

Serving children throughout California and the western United States, Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California is the region’s only dedicated pediatric burn program verified by the American Burn Association and the American College of Surgeons.  David Greenhalgh, M.D., leads the internationally noted team of burn surgeons that works in concert with advance practice nurses, therapists, social workers and other professionals to provide the care and rehabilitation children need to lead active, productive lives.

The Shriners Hospital burn team treats burn injuries of all sizes — from massive life-threatening burns to the smallest fingertip burn.  Expert care extends to children with serious skin conditions, dog bites and other wounds.

The burn team also works to promote positive outcomes through scientific studies and burn prevention research and education.  Prevention studies conducted by the Northern California burn team have uncovered the risks associated with halogen lamps, fire imagery in toy advertising, microwavable cups of soup and more.  A campfire safety campaign led by Tina Palmieri, M.D., assistant chief of burns, was adopted by the California State Department of Parks and Recreation.

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California hosts prevention programs for elementary school children in grades K-3. Safety Begins at Home is the name of the interactive program that teaches kids many of the safety messages included in the Shriners Hospital Be Burn Aware campaign.