What is scarring?
A scar is an area of fibrous tissue that replaces normal skin following an injury or trauma such as a cut or burn. Scarring is a natural part of the healing process but can sometimes require management to ensure that it does not cause additional problems.
What are the difficulties that scarring can cause?
The location and amount of scar tissue will dictate the impact it has on functional activities. Below are some of the common difficulties that scar tissue can cause:
- Reduced grip strength, which can cause problems with opening jars or bottles, holding pens or keys and manipulating objects within the hands such as cutlery
- Pain, which can affect a person both when awake and when trying to sleep
- Reduced range of movement, which can cause problems with carrying out activities of daily living such as washing and dressing, walking, using the stairs or driving
We have pages on our website dedicated to how we as occupational therapists help people overcome common difficulties associated with scarring. You can find links to these pages at the bottom of this page.
How can occupational therapy help with scar management?
Increasing range of movement
Splinting in scar management is a way to maintain or regain functional positioning and provides a controlled stretch to contracting scar tissue.
Pressure to a healing scar can help flatten and smooth the scar tissue. An occupational therapist that is skilled in scar management can advise on pressure garments and their appropriate use.
Pain can be part of the healing process. Depending on the nature of the injury, high pain levels can have an effect on daily life. An occupational therapist that understands the mechanisms of pain can provide a pain management programme to help reduce the effects of the pain on daily life.
Work and leisure support
The role of an occupational therapist is to help people return to work, leisure and daily life following a potentially life changing event. They will analyse the effect of the injury on a client's ability to perform their work or leisure pursuits, and advise on modifications or teach alternative techniques.
Part of the scar healing process is a hyper-sensitivity to touch on the affected area. An occupational therapist can help touch to become more tolerable through desensitisation techniques using varying textures and pressures.