You may encounter a Burns Occupational Therapist at any stage of your burns treatment. Their role will vary depending on your needs and stage of treatment. Primarily the Occupational Therapist will look at function and your ability to perform normal day to day activities. The Occupational Therapist will be interested in what your life was like pre-injury; including your social situation, home life, work and hobbies. This will help you both agree on goals for your treatment. The Occupational Therapist will also advise on scar management and caring for your skin following your burn.
During your inpatient stay the Occupational Therapist may be involved in helping you to manage daily tasks. Everyday activities such as getting washed and dressed, feeding yourself or cooking may be used as both assessments and treatment sessions. The Occupational Therapist will look at movement and strength of your joints, particularly your arms, to enable you to complete tasks as independently as possible. They might make a splint or obtain a pre-made splint to be used to position parts of the body in a preferred position. Splints can be used at any stage of your burn care for various purposes. When the splint is worn and for how long will be determined by the Occupational Therapist.
The Occupational Therapist will help prepare you for discharge home from the hospital and will ensure you can manage the tasks you need to do at home or refer you for additional help if this is necessary. They may need to assess you in your own home environment to make sure you are safe or to provide equipment that may help you.
Once your burn injury has healed the Occupational Therapist will focus on scar management and discuss treatment options. They will also provide advice on managing itch, pain, sensitivity, sun care and various other common problems. The Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapist roles often overlap and change in emphasis during different phases of the burn rehabilitation process. If you are being treated at an NHS Burn Service under the care of a NHS Burn Consultant, you should have access to an Occupational Therapist. They are part of the multidisciplinary team in specialist burn services.