There are many ways in which you can sustain burn injuries; whether you are in a car accident, an accident at work, or burnt while cooking a turkey dinner, burn injuries are painful and can leave you in agonizing pain and with disfiguring scars. While these consequences are bad enough, research shows that burn injuries do not simply affect your overall health in the short term, but also throughout the rest of your life.
Burns, whether minor or severe, can lead to a shorter lifespan, cancer, bone diseases, and negative effects to your heart and your nervous system. When your injuries are caused by someone else’s negligence, such as being in an accident with a drunk driver or suffering electrical burns from a malfunctioning piece of equipment, you deserve compensation for the pain, suffering, and possible long-term effects on your life. It is critical to take burn injuries seriously, and when filing a lawsuit, Gainsberg Law will fight to ensure that you not only receive full restitution for your current injuries and treatments, but also the impact that this negligent accident will have on your future health and wellbeing.
Burn injury statistics
In 2019, BioMed Central (BMC) published a scientific article on burn injuries and their long-term health effects. The article gives us an in-depth look into how a burn injury ends up being more like a disease, as they show the injury can affect many systems in the body, even increasing mortality rates among burn victims. This is specifically about patients who recover and heal from the initial injury, not those who die as a direct cause of the injury. The findings of this study are concerning, and it shows why such injuries need to be taken extremely seriously.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “Burns and fires are the fifth most common cause of accidental death in children and adults, and account for an estimated 3,500 adult and child deaths per year.”
The World Health Organization reports that non-fatal burns are a leading cause of morbidity, and that people from low- and middle-income homes throughout the world are more likely to suffer burn injuries than high-income earners.
How are burn injuries a chronic disease?
The BMC report does a good job pulling together the admittedly small number of studies available on the long-term effects of burn injuries, which they state is due to the fact that “many of the secondary pathologies discussed in this review were only linked to burn [injuries] recently by long-term population studies;” in order to measure the long-term effects of any injury, the study itself takes a long time to conduct. As the study discusses several diseases and conditions linked to burn injuries (such as an increased risk of diabetes, infectious diseases, and certain diseases caused by negative effects the burn injury has on the immune system), we will be highlighting just a few.
Physical and mental scars
The more well-known long-term effects of burn injuries are physical and mental scarring. Physical scarring refers to more than just the skin, though the topical scarring tends to be severe, especially in young patients, or patients with severe burns. Hypertrophic scarring is thick raised scars that occur in taut places of the skin, and are a rarer type of scar, but appear more commonly on burn victims. These can “significantly impact movement and joint function,” depending on their location, and require certain treatments and therapies to improve.
Other than scarring, burn victims must also deal with muscle atrophy that not only happens while the injury is healing in the short term, but can still be happening up to three years later. Five years after a severe burn, patients from a study showed that they still had weak muscle strength. Bone density loss is also noted in patients with severe burns, persisting long after the initial burn injury has healed. This means that even years after the burn has healed, the body is still undergoing muscle and bone degradation as a long term effect of the burn.
After any severe injury, it is understandable that a person may experience a detriment to their mental health due to the changes it causes to their life. Burn victims in particular may experience depression and anxiety from the experience itself, with studies showing that patients reported feeling depressed and anxious up to four years after the injury. It is not only the scars that affect their mental health, but also the pain from the injury. Notoriously, burn injuries are severely painful during the healing process, but patients reported feeling significant pain up to 11 years after their initial injury. This chronic pain negatively affects the quality of life for the patient, leading to poor mental health.
Increased risk of developing diseases
The less-discussed effects burn injuries have on victims are an increased risk of developing diseases. In multiple, long-term studies of burn injuries, cancer (of all types) was shown to occur at an increased rate among burn injury patients, especially among those with a large total body surface area of burn. The study showed that they were 1.81x more likely to develop cancer: “Burn patients across all cohorts, genders and age groups had statistically significant increases in cancer of the buccal cavity, larynx, liver, respiratory tract and oesophagus.” As for why burn injuries increase the risk for cancer, the immune system plays a critical role in cancer prevention, and burn injuries can drastically suppress the immune system.
Cardiovascular diseases were also an increased risk for burn victims. Child burn victims were observed to have had a higher rate and longer stays at the hospital for circulatory diseases when compared to uninjured children. This was more prominent in boys, and “with [hospital] admissions remaining higher more than 20 years after the initial burn injury.”
Adult victims also showed a higher rate of circulatory diseases “with 1.46× more admissions and 2.9× more days spent in hospital,” with specific risk of “ischaemic heart disease, heart failure and cerebrovascular disease.”
As the immune system is damaged and suppressed from burn injuries, there is an “excessive inflammatory response.” This inflammatory response, combined with stress and hypermetabolism (which is an acute effect of a burn), plays a role in cardiac dysfunction.
Finally, burn injury victims are shown to have a higher mortality rate than uninjured people. Children were reported having a 1.6x higher mortality rate; adolescents and young adults experienced a 1.8x mortality rate; and middle-aged adults had a 1.4x mortality rate.
These are just a few long-term effects of severe burn injuries. It shows that burn injuries are more than just a few months of pain and healing, and can be an entire lifetime of pain and disease.
If you have been burned in a car accident; or suffered an electrical burn from a malfunctioning tool or piece of equipment; or if you’ve been burned due to unsafe working conditions – if you have suffered any type of burn injury due to someone’s negligence, you need strong and knowledgeable representation. Our attorneys can work to secure the compensation that not only covers the medical costs of your injury as it stands right now, but for all the pain and suffering that is probable to happen in your future. Gainsberg Law has experienced burn injury attorneys who can help you. For a free consultation, call us today in Chicago, or use our contact form. We want to fight for you.
Neal S. Gainsberg has spent the last 20 years fighting to protect the rights of the injured in Chicago and throughout Illinois. From consumer rights and bankruptcy to catastrophic injuries and wrongful death, Mr. Gainsberg stands up to large corporations, insurance companies, creditors and hospital administrators to ensure that his clients’ futures are safe and secure. Learn More