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The Added Trauma Associated with Burn Injuries Sustained in Car Accidents
Burn injuries are like other injuries in many ways, bringing pain, trauma, and financial hardship. Burns do, however, differ from other injuries in one major way—they can cause disfigurement that can last months, years, or a lifetime. Burn injuries can cause pain that is unlike any other type of pain associated with an injury, and disfigurement affects your entire life—how you feel about yourself and how comfortable you are with social interactions.
Most of us are required to deal with others in one way or another—when we go to school, when we go to work, when we shop, or when we engage in recreational activities. When others stare, it can be difficult to maintain self-esteem in the face of the scarring resulting from the burns. About one-third of burn survivors have severe distress regarding changes in the way their body looks, feels, and works following a burn injury.
Of course, everyone has their ups and downs following a serious injury but recovering from a burn injury can take extra time and medical interventions. Healed skin or grafted skin can be discolored—lighter or darker than the surrounding uninjured skin. In addition to surgical procedures, some burn victims can benefit from using special makeup or clothing to make the burn scars less noticeable. A plastic surgeon who is specially trained in burn reconstruction can potentially help burn victims improve the appearance of scars as well as restore function to burned areas.
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There may be significant levels of emotional healing necessary to accept the changes that come following a burn injury. Counseling can be helpful to focus on your accomplishments, education, career, or other strengths and less on your physical appearance. This doesn’t mean that those who accept their scars have to like them, only that the person must learn (with help) to focus less on appearance and more on the inner person.
The Prevalence of Burn Injuries Associated with an Auto Accident
According to the American Burn Association, about five percent of all serious burns stem from an auto accident. Other places where burns occur include in the home (73 percent), at work (8 percent), during a sport or recreational activity (5 percent), and “other” (9 percent). The cause of burn injuries are:
Almost two-thirds of all burn victims are male, and as many as 486,000 burn victims receive medical treatment each and every year.
Understanding Burn Injuries
The largest organ of the body is the skin. As such, the skin has a number of very important functions, such as protecting the body from injury, trauma, and germs, regulating the temperature of the body, preventing dehydration, and allowing the body to feel sensations (heat, cold, pain, pressure, itching, etc.). Our skin has three layers, and the severity of the burn will be determined by how many layers of the skin are damaged.
The top layer of skin varies in thickness, depending on the location. This layer of skin is continuously renewed. The middle layer of skin contains blood vessels, connective tissues, hair follicles, and nerve fibers. The third layer—the deepest layer—protects the body and regulates temperature as it is mostly made of fat.
- A “first-degree” burn will usually heal on its own, damaging only the outer layer of skin, but still causing pain and redness.
- A “second-degree” burn damages the first and the second layers of skin, resulting in more severe pain, blisters, and inflammation.
- A “third-degree” burn is very serious, leaving the skin looking black and charred.
- A “fourth-degree” burn damages every layer of skin, even into the bone and muscle.
The treatment of a burn will depend largely on the type of burn (flame, chemical, electrical, hot water) and the severity of the burn. Generally speaking, a first-degree burn is considered minor and can probably be treated at home. A more serious burn requires medical intervention, including IV fluids (to prevent dehydration and to administer antibiotics to head off infection), pain medication, and possibly surgery. Those with burns covering more than 10 percent of their body may be admitted to a burn trauma center for specialized care. Skin grafts could be required, and physical therapy could be a part of the rehabilitative program.
Unfortunately, severe burn injuries can lead to complications, including: amputation, dehydration, permanent scarring, breathing problems, and bacterial infection. Burn injuries can also cause emotional trauma, including a loss of self-confidence, nightmares, insomnia, depression, hopelessness, anxiety, rage, and feeling afraid to ride in a vehicle or be near the scene of the accident.
How a Doctor Can Help Those with Burn Injuries
Those with serious burn injuries will probably see a number of different doctors—regular surgeons, plastic surgeons, pain management doctors, rehabilitative therapists, and psychologists or counselors. As one might imagine, the necessity of the many medical professionals necessary to treat a serious burn injury can also result in financial hardship for many. Time spent in a burn trauma unit, surgical procedures, procedures done by a plastic surgeon, as well as rehabilitative therapies, and mental health professionals can cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even those with health insurance could find the medical care required for a burn victim quickly causes their insurance to reach its upper limits, leaving them responsible for the entirety of their treatment costs.
How an Experienced Colorado Burn Injury Attorney Can Help
Victims of serious burn injuries may find themselves unable to return to work and make a living, unable to keep up with their medical expenses (therefore unable to get the treatments they require), and even unable to pay their normal monthly expenses. If you find yourself in this position, you may feel anxious about your future and uncertain of where to turn. The Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya can help you through this difficult time. We can help you get the medical treatments you require, as well as the money you need and deserve from the person responsible for your accident and burn injuries. Don’t wait — contact the Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya today.