Uniaxial Biomechanical Properties of Human Skin and Burn Scar

Project Type
Independent
Principal Investigator Name
Karen Kowalske, M.D.
Principal Investigator Email
Start Date:
10/27/2009
End Date:
9/2/2011
Participating Centers:
Target Population(s):
The target population is adult patients with burn injuries resulting in scarring. The burn scar must be located in an area available to stretch during a therapy treatment and less than one year from the original burn date.
Abstract:
The purpose of this study is to quantify the biomechanical effects of a therapist stretching a patient’s burn scars. Burn scars are the most common complication of burn injury and can alter the way a person’s joints move and lower their quality of life. A common treatment for burn scars is to apply a mechanical stretch to the surrounding tissues in an effort to ‘loosen up’ the scar; sometimes performed by the patient themselves and many times by a skilled therapist. Although our clinical experience suggests that doing this is helpful, we do not have any mechanical nor quantitative evidence to support our impression. There are now instruments available that can measure some of the qualities of skin and scar as described above. We propose in this study to use a durometer to measure biomechanical properties of human skin before and after a stretch is applied. This instrument is a hand held device that applies a small suction force over the scar to measure the stiffness and elasticity of the scar. It is hoped that the data gleaned from this project will help to demonstrate the benefits of mechanical stretch of human burn scars. This may help in more widely applying stretching in the field as well as help in supporting requests for stretching therapies to assist in scar treatments.