The trauma of burns and implications for burn survivors
A burn is perhaps one of the most painful trauma that a person can go through. Advances in medical care have meant that burn patients now have greater chances of survival but people who sustained major burns face a long rehabilitation process to regain their basic physical functions, adjust to their changed appearance and live confidently and independently. Recovery can be long and difficult.
The impact of burns at an individual level includes:
- Physical aspect: Pain and itch from scars that disrupts daily life and sleep routine, functional impairment or complete loss of function, reduced independence in carrying out activities of daily living due to scar contracture.
- Psychological aspect: Anxiety and depression, sense of helplessness due to loss, PTSD, negative emotions, poor self-perception due to changed appearance, fear of facing people’s reaction and other socially-related anxiety.
- Social aspect: Financial issues due to material losses or inability to immediately return to work, legal issues related to injury, difficulties returning to school or work after injury.
At a broader social level, burn survivors might encounter prejudice and discrimination due to their different appearance.
Supporting the physical recovery
Burn rehabilitation services aim to help burn survivors regain their physical functions to return to an active, independent life within the community. Therapists will design an individualized rehabilitation plan that includes exercises, splints and pressure therapy. Rehabilitation services are provided in our service centers and rehabilitation centers, as well as in our clients' homes, through home rehabilitation services.
Learn more about our physical rehabilitation services
Eliminating barriers to recovery
After their injury, burn survivors are often unable to immediately return to work and for some, this might create financial difficulties leading to anxiety and stress that will have a negative impact on rehabilitation. To free our clients from everyday worries so that they may concentrate on their physical and psychological rehabilitation, we provide financial aid that covers the expenses of medical treatment not covered by the national health insurance, rehabilitation, pressure garments and other assistive devices, daily living and transportation.
Due to the severity of their injury, some burn survivors are sometimes heavily reliant on their family for wound care and daily care like showering. Some are isolated and would benefit from contact with their peers. Some live too far away from medical and rehabilitation facilities and must come to Taipei. Sunshine Half-Way House was established in 2001 to offer short-term housing to burn survivors undergoing rehabilitation in Taipei City. Services include:
- Assistance with daily care (showering, wound and scar care, wearing pressure garment).
- Independent living training to help burn survivors regain the ability to care for themselves.
- Social adaptation activities to facilitate their return in the community.
Helping adjust to life after burns
Psychosocial services of Sunshine aim to help burn survivors adjust to disfigurement, develop a positive attitude, and build the confidence necessary to face the world. Social workers and psychological counselors play an important role in this process. Services include individual and group counseling, peer support groups, play therapy and sand play therapy for children, skin camouflage and social skills training.
Facilitating the return to life in the community
For young burn survivors, part of returning to a normal life means going back to school, among their peers, and pursuing their academic goals. However, school re-entry can sometimes be a difficult process not just for the child who might fear being treated differently by his peers, but also for the school, with teachers and classmates unaware of the best way to interact with someone who has a form of facial disfigurement. Sunshine Foundation has developed a school re-entry counseling model to work with the child, the family and the school to facilitate school re-entry process. Sunshine's social worker works with the child to prepare him or her for life in the classroom, and also organizes (upon the request of the child and parents or school) activities in the school to raise awareness towards burn prevention and acceptance towards people with facial disfigurement.
Employment is a crucial step towards returning to a normal life. Through vocational counseling services, Sunshine Foundation’s vocational counselors provide professional and individualized services which include vocational evaluation, job skills and occupational interest evaluation, job matching services and job placement services.
Preventing burn injuries
The goal of social education is to prevent burns that lead to disfigurement by teaching about fire safety and first aid, as well as by enhancing public understanding towards people with facial disfigurement so that they may enjoy equal rights and opportunities. Sunshine Foundation carries out educational activities all year long across Taiwan in schools, communities, through the media and on Internet.