Rehabilitation Exercise Increases Physical Activity Levels in Severely Burned Children While Improving Aerobic Exercise Capacity and Strength

Eric Rivas, Joan Tran, Ileana L. Gutierrez, Martha Chapa, David Herndon, Oscar Suman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study tested the hypothesis that participation in a rehabilitation exercise program following hospital discharge would increase the level of physical activity in burned children than that seen in free-living nonburned children. Thirty-one severely burned children (12 ± 3 years, 144 ± 18 cm, 42 ± 17 kg, 48 ± 12% TBSA burns) were matched to 31 nonburned children (12 ± 3 y, 147 ± 17 cm, 45 ± 15 kg) based on age and sex. Pedometers were used to track minutes and steps in burned children during their exercise rehabilitation and nonburned children under free-living conditions (healthy control). We found that the average minutes of activity per day was lower in burned children (56 ± 25minutes) than in nonburned children (74 ± 28 minutes, P < .05). However, no difference was detected for average steps per day or week or maximal minutes in 1 day or week. At discharge, burn children had peak torque and mean power values that were 61% of nonburned values, and exercise training improved these by 27 and 28%, respectively (88 and 89% of nonburned values; each P ≤ .0001). Likewise, cardiorespiratory fitness at discharge was 72% of nonburned values, and exercise training improved fitness by 10% (82% of nonburned values, P < .05). Percentage TBSA burned was inversely associated with steps (r = -0.54, P = .001) and minutes of activity (r = -0.53, P = .002), accounting for 28-29% of the variability in burned children. These results show that, at discharge, burned children are capable of matching steps of physical activity levels seen in nonburned healthy children. Physical activity monitoring may be a viable option for continued improvement of physical exercise capacity when burned children are under free-living conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)881-886
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of burn care & research : official publication of the American Burn Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 23 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Rehabilitation

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