Taking up the challenge of setting up a pressure garment service from scratch
Pressure garments are an integral part of the rehabilitation process after burns. These garments help prevent hypertrophic scar growth, which otherwise can lead to contracture, deformity and loss of function. Hallym Foundation in South Korea helps close to 1,000 people with burn injuries every year, but the lack of suitable pressure garments is an issue that the foundation staff have always wanted to address. In 2022, Sunshine Foundation signed a cooperation agreement with Hallym Foundation to conduct a four-year training program on pressure garment production. Unlike our previous training partners who already were producing their own garments, Hallym Foundation has never provided pressure garment services. Without manpower, equipment, and work processes, they are starting from scratch, so this project not only requires technical training, but also assistance for the development of their entire service model. This is a challenge for Sunshine, but even more so for our Korean partners who must familiarize themselves with many new things, from mastering techniques to organizing work division and procuring machines and material, etc.
Using online training to overcome pandemic-related limitations
Because Covid-19 still imposes limitations on international travel, the 2022 training has done been entirely online. Sunshine prepared pre-recorded lessons in Korean on basic concepts, pressure garment measurement and fitting techniques. These lessons were made available to participants on our E-Learning platform. Thankfully, there is only a one-hour time difference between Taipei and Seoul, so in June, it was possible to organize a live online training through ZOOM to teach participants pattern-making techniques. The demonstration of techniques by Sunshine's trainer was broadcasted live to participants in Korea. With their cellphones, participants were also able to broadcast how they applied the techniques and get immediate comments from Sunshine's trainer.
Sunshine therapist carrying out a live training on ZOOM with trainees in Korea
Sunshine's therapist in Taipei checking how the trainee in Korea is applying pattern-making skills.
Burn survivors and pressure garments: from users to producers
An important feature of this project is that some of the trainees are burn survivors themselves. Although most of them are novice in terms of pattern-making and sewing, having experienced post-burn rehabilitation and having used pressure garments themselves, they are well aware of the importance of comfort. Throughout the live training session, they asked many questions about the design of garments that were informed by their own (sometimes negative) experience: How to make sure that garments are not too tight?, How to avoid Velcro rubbing against the skin and causing discomfort?, etc.
Burn survivors receiving training on pattern-making through ZOOM (photo courtesy of Hallym Burn Foundation)
This year's training focused on the simplest garments (sleeves and neck collar) but it's only the beginning. As participants start to apply what they learn and gain experience AND confidence, a new pressure garment service system will start to emerge. And as life after the pandemic returns to normal, Sunshine will be able to resume face to face trainings.