At Shriners Children’s, we know just how important innovative therapies are to provide the best outcomes for your child.
If your child has sustained a burn injury, especially one that requires prolonged care, you may feel overwhelmed with worry about your child’s future. Many parents voice concerns about their child’s pain and discomfort, and struggle with how to help their son or daughter manage the difficult itching caused by scars. Long-term, families worry about their child’s functioning, growth and cosmetic outcomes. Pressure garment therapy is just one of the valuable services we offer at Shriners Children’s to help minimize these concerns and help children feel confident about their appearance.
Pressure garment therapy is used to manage scars caused by severe burn wounds. Scarring happens when the natural healing process of the skin is disrupted, resulting in an overproduction of collagen (the most common protein in the body) and a thickening of the skin. Burn wounds that have taken longer than two to three weeks to heal on their own, or have required surgical grafting to close, are at the highest risk of developing scars.
Pressure garment therapy works by controlling the overproduction of collagen and promoting the soft healing of skin. Pressure garments help improve the appearance of the skin by providing consistent and even pressure on the healed wound. Pressure garments also flatten the tissue in the skin to promote flexibility, which results in greater mobility for your child.
Pressure garment therapy is just one of the ways the rehabilitation services department oversees scar management and treatment interventions throughout the entirety of your child’s care. Occupational and physical therapists work with your child and our multidisciplinary team whether your child is an inpatient or is being treated in the outpatient clinic. Interventions can include developmental activities, stretching and exercise programs, custom splinting, and management of the skin healing and scarring process.
Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.
What to Expect From Pressure Garment Therapy
Our team of physical and occupational therapists at Shriners Children’s follows your child from the initial injury until the healed wound or skin graft is fully mature, which can be anywhere from 9 to 18 months following the injury.
Pressure therapy is provided through massage of your child’s skin with creams, and the use of materials such as pressure garments. The pressure garments are made specifically to provide consistent and even pressure throughout the healed skin to promote flat and soft healing of scars. Pressure garments come in different levels, with temporary or interim garments used in the early stages immediately following skin healing or grafting. These garments provide a lower level of pressure to toughen the new skin and begin to control the scar.
Immediately after skin healing or grafting, your child can first expect to wear a temporary pressure garment. These garments provide a lower level of pressure to toughen the new skin and begin to control the scar.
Within two to three weeks of starting pressure garment therapy, we will transition your child to customized pressure garments. These customized garments are measured specifically to fit your child. Your child will use these garments for up to 12-18 months after injury, with frequent reassessment over that period to provide new garments as your child grows. This continuous follow-up allows our care team to monitor your child’s progress and adjust the treatment when necessary.
For the best results, we recommend that your child wear their garment 22-23 hours each day. Garments should be used in combination with daily massages of all healed skin. The pressure garments and massages will work together to minimize itching and toughen the newly healed skin.
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