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Improving Recovery for Burn Survivors

Burn Experiences map
Burn Experiences

The recovery process following a thermal burn is not well understood. The purpose of this pilot study is to examine patient characteristics associated with immediate and long term patient outcomes after major burn injury. This study is being conducted at burn centers within the Burn TRYUMPH Research Network (renamed, UNC Institute for Trauma Recovery). This project is supported by the UNC CTRC, The Jaycee Burn Center, and the Department of Anesthesiology.

First, we have demonstrated that pain and itch in the aftermath of major thermal burn injury is common and causes significant impact on mental and physical functioning. Our analysis revealed that pain appears to cause a greater impact on life function compared to itch. We have published this finding, which is fundamental in defining sensory problems and their impact in the aftermath of injury.

Second, we have published the finding that African American burn survivors experience a greater burden of pain and itch severity following major burn injury compared to European Americans. This finding is independent of age, sex, and whether opioids were administered. This finding is consistent with reports from the literature demonstrating that African Americans experience greater pain sensitivity that European Americans in experimental settings.

Finally, we have published results demonstrating that pathological scarring in the aftermath of burn injury is associated with chronic pain severity 6 months following major thermal burn injury. This result indicates that interventions that address scarring may improve pain outcomes and vice versa.