Burn Injuries

Burns can be about the most painful injuries a person can have, I know because I’ve been there. No words are adequate to describe that kind of pain. On that pain scale of one to ten, burn injuries can reach hit about 10,000. It’s simply surreal. No amount of morphine or Demerol is adequate to overcome it. We see burn injuries most often in natural gas or gasoline explosions, but there are many ways burn injuries can occur even chemical burns. Fortunately here in Atlanta we have a superb Grady Hospital Burn Unit. If a loved one has a serious burn injury anywhere within a 100-150 mile radius of Atlanta, your first response should be take them to Grady. If you were in scouts as a kid you probably learned about first, second, and third degree burns. First degree burns make the skin red, involve swelling and are painful for a short time. Usually they are pretty minor unless they cover a huge area of the body. Second degree burns go through the second layer of skin. If they’re less than about three inches in diameter and not involved in hands, face, groin, or buttocks, that can be minor. But, if a second degree burn covers a large portion of the body or those areas I just mentioned it can be major and even life threatening if it involves the throat or lungs. A full thickness second degree burn may require extensive skin graphs and scarring. Third degree burns involve all the layers of the skin and cause permanent tissue damage, fat, muscle and even bone may be affected. The burned areas may even be charred black or appear dry and white. Inhalation of smoke and carbon monoxide may complicate any burn injury. If the bronchial passages are burned it’s life threatening. Infection is another huge threat in serious burn injuries so intravenous antibiotics along with intravenous pain medicine are standard treatment. Now hydrotherapy might sound like something you do while in a spa but in a burn unit it’s entirely different. Hydrotherapy is used to cleanse the skin, minimize scar formation and prevent infection. It’s kind of like being sandblasted with every raw nerve fully exposed and is excruciating. After burns and skin grafts there might be weeks of home care that requires pain staking changing of dressing every day and months of wearing uncomfortable compression garments. The mental aspects of a burn injury can be almost as bad as the physical. Some of the medication used to control the physical pain can cause bizarre hallucinations. Now I am generally pretty skeptical about post-traumatic stress claims but it can really fit a person who has severe burns in an explosion. If there is substantial scarring the loss of body image and the reactions of other people who are alarmed by the appearance can be devastating. If you or a loved one has had a serious burn injury that is someone else’s fault call for a free consultation. I hope we can help.

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