Thermal injury is a major concern in the world. In the United States alone, more than 1.2 million burn casualties are reported each year. Between 50,000—60,000 of these cases require hospitalization as a result of their severity (Brigham and McLoughlin, 1996). Ten percent of those hospitalized will go on to die due to the complications of burns, such as inhalational injury, infections, multiple organ failures, and others (Brigham and McLoughlin, 1996; Bull and Fisher, 1949; Heimbach, 1987; Rodriguez-Bigas etal, 1988). Deaths related to thermal injury are distributed in a bimodal fashion just like any other trauma-related deaths: immediately after the injury or weeks later (Committee on trauma, 1999).
The elderly, young adults and children are often the victims of thermal injury with about 67% of these cases happening at the their homes (Barillo and Goode, 1996; Ryan etal., 1998). It is sad to point out that a substantial amount of these horrendous injuries are as a result of child abuse. Most of these injuries are accident related, however, it is interesting to note that risk factors like low socioeconomic status and unsafe environment have been associated with thermal injuries, making preventive methods worthwhile to mention (Hurley, 1957; Lorenzetti etal, 1964).
The sequelae of burns not only involves disfiguring forms and altered function but also the psychosocial well-being of the individual is significantly altered (Blakeney, 1988). However, with good reconstructive techniques, good rehabilitation, and the availability of psychological support, most of these patients eventually find a sense of fulfillment. With the advances made in burn care, better resuscitation methods, the availability of potent antimicrobials, better wound dressing agents, better attenuation of the hypermetabolic response and improvement in inhalational injury treatment, the survival rate of burn victims has improved dramatically (Alexander etal., 1981; Blakeney etal, 1988; Boswick, 1987; Davis and Maro, 1989; Desai etal, 1990; Desai etal, 1991; Dziewulski, 1992; Heggers etal, 1985; Molnar etal, 1973).
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