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Burn Injury

No one who has not experienced a severe burn can fully comprehend the severity of the pain involved. If kidney stones and childbirth rank a 10 on the 10 point pain scale, hydrotherapy and debridement after massive burns and skin grafts can rank in the hundreds or thousands on the same scale.

There are no words to describe that pain. It is surreal. Only screams from the depth of the soul can express it. I know because I've been there.

Hope After Burn Injuries

And having been there and back, I encourage burn injury clients to see their cup as half full, to get on with normal life to the fullest extent possible.

Burn Clinics in Georgia

In Georgia there are two excellent burn treatment centers:

Burn patients from anywhere in Georgia may be transported to either of these burn centers, depending on availability of space at the time of an injury.

For burn victims and their families, the road to recovery is likely to be both long and difficult.

Categories of Burn Injuries

There are four categories of burn injuries:

  1. First degree burns
  2. Superficial second degree burns
  3. Deep second degree burns
  4. Third degree burns

First-degree burns usually affect the outer layer of the skin, called the epidermis. A first-degree burn tends to be moist and red in color. A burn of this nature is generally resolved within a week. A classic example of a first-degree burn would be mild sunburn.

A superficial second-degree burn penetrates the entire epidermal layer of skin and extends down to the next skin layer, known as the dermis. Pressure on a second-degree burn tends to produce red blanches. The burn may appear moist and pinkish in color. A superficial second-degree burn also should heal spontaneously, often within two weeks.

A full thickness second-degree burn differs from the superficial second degree burns, because the tissue destruction runs deeper into the dermis. This type of burn is common in an explosion. A burn of this nature will be dry and whitish in color. It will not produce red blanches with application of pressure. This type of burn may take three to four weeks to heal. There is a risk that a deep second-degree burn will leave thick or hypertrophic scars.

Third degree burns are the most severe classification. This occurs when the burn destroyed both the epidermal and dermal layers of skin and extended down to the subcutaneous tissue. These burns may be physically depressed, charred, and often leather-like in appearance.

Ironically, a third degree burn may not be as physically painful as less severe types, because of the amount of nerve endings that were destroyed. These burns are very serious and often require skin grafting or other reconstructive procedures.

Burns are also classified into two categories: partial thickness and full thickness. Partial thickness burns include first and second degree burns, while full thickness burns are usually third degree burns.

These descriptions only describe the general burn characteristics. However, you should not attempt to diagnose the severity of a burn on your own. Instead, get prompt medical attention, because this can be important in minimizing pain and promoting faster recovery. In severe burn cases, immediate medical treatment may save lives.

Here are a few online resources that may be of use:

Diet after burn injury

A high protein diet is essential in recovering from a burn injury. An easy way to boost protein intake is to supplement meals with high protein meal bars and whey protein powder mixed into smoothies or other food can help.

Compression Garments After Burn Injury

Following burns and skin grafts, one typically must wear compression garments, sometimes for six months to a year. The custom-made compression garments can be terribly hot and uncomfortable, virtually intolerable in summer heat, and terribly conspicuous. However, patients sometimes come up with more comfortable options. For example, for burns on arms legs and torso, biker shorts, Coolmax running tights (available in Atlanta at Phidippides) and Under Armour Heat compression shirts (available at Dick's) may may provide the compression needed in a manner that both more comfortable and less conspicuous.

For some people recovering from burns, it is psychologically more positive to use protein supplements and compression garments that are designed and marketed for athletic rather than medical purposes.

Psychological Aspects of Burn Injury

Many burn survivors have very significant changes in body image and self concept, leading to understandable depression. There is a high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among burn injury survivors that may justify professional mental health care. Burn centers have burn survivor support groups that can be helpful in the recovery process for many burn survivors. However, this is a highly individual matter as some patients have enough of an external focus to recover psychologically on their own.

Of course, I am not a doctor -- just another guy who has been there -- and cannot give medical advice. All burn victims should seek medical advice and guidance from the physicians at the burn clinic where they are treated.

If you or a loved one have suffered a serious burn injury, submit our inquiry form or call us now at 404-253-7862.


Johnson & Ward has been a leading personal injury and wrongful death specialty law firm in Atlanta since 1949. The founders of the firm were also among the founders of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association. Current partners include former presidents of the State Bar of Georgia and the Atlanta Bar Association.


Ken Shigley, senior counsel at Johnson & Ward, is a former president of the State Bar of Georgia (2011-12). He was the first Georgia lawyer to earn three board certifications from the National Board of Trial Advocacy (Civil Trial Advocacy, Civil Pretrial Advocacy, and Truck Accident Law). In 2019, he received the Traditions of Excellence Award for lifetime achievement. Mr. Shigley was the lead author of eleven editions of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice (Thomson Reuters, 2010-21). He graduated from Furman University and Emory University Law School, and completed certificate courses in trial practice, negotiation and mediation at Harvard Law School.

Client Reviews
"Goes above and beyond and is a mountain of knowledge on spine and brain injuries. He does his research and represents you with a level of excellence. Remains a friend after representing me." Dee M., Woodstock, GA
"I have collaborated with Mr. Shigley on several initiatives within Georgia’s Judiciary over the past few years and found him to be a persistent and attentive individual. Ken has taken great pride in his involvement with the projects that I have worked on and he is good at influencing success. Despite his hectic schedule, Ken has always made time to discuss, research and review ideas for the best way to accomplish goals. I look forward to a continued working relationship in this and future roles." Jorge B., CIO, Judicial Council of Georgia
"After having to have a hole drilled in an automobile part at a machine shop 10 years ago, I told my uncle I could have done that. My uncle replied, "You are doing this once these guys do it every day" That simply means if you don't know where to turn, get help and get an expert. Ken was that help when I was severely injured during a fatal accident. Ken and his team at Shigley Law are experts, and are here to help you during your crisis. Ken will be there during the injury, recovery, and trial. He and his firm will work hard to see that you are represented fairly!" Jeremy R.
"Ken is a very kind man. He has a wealth of knowledge and is going above and beyond to help us while representing our case." Candy F., spouse of catastrophic injury client, Plains, GA
"I know Ken as trial lawyer of highest standards. Ken is knowledgeable and innovative and that translates to success in the courtroom. He is outgoing, compassionate and personable which makes him a pleasure to work with in any setting." Eric B., Attorney, Canton, GA