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J Burn Care Res. 2007 May-Jun;28(3):451-9.

The effect of positioning devices and pressure therapy on outcome after full-thickness burns of the neck.

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Shriners Hospitals for Children, 3229 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229-3095, USA.


The postoperative management of full-thickness burns of the neck can be a challenge for burn therapists despite the availability of many treatment modalities to minimize scar hypertrophy and contracture. Interventions include pressure appliances, massage, exercise, and positioning devices. The objective of this study was to identify factors associated with the development of neck contractures and optimal treatment strategies for their prevention. We performed a retrospective chart review of all patients admitted to our pediatric burn center between 1989 and 2003 with acute full-thickness neck burns. Rehabilitation protocols used for each patient were examined. The necessity of a reconstructive procedure was analyzed, as well as time from initial grafting to that procedure. We identified 49 eligible subjects. Patients ranged in age from 0.6 to 14.2 years at the time of injury. The number of factors present which inhibited both positioning and application of pressure to the neck was found to be significantly related to the need for neck reconstruction (P < .01). Patients who had tracheostomies had a mean time to neck reconstruction of 20.3 months compared with 43.4 months in patients without tracheostomies (P < .05). Also, although not statistically significant, greater than 80% of patients who were discharged with reduced range of motion of the neck required reconstruction compared with fewer than 65% of patients with normal neck range. Delayed pressure and positioning of the neck after skin grafting result in an earlier and more frequent need for neck reconstruction.

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