New therapy will ease pain

STRONG SUPPORT: Andre Potgieter, left, and Chris Black, both of the Wildhorse Motorcycle Club, together with Dr Aydin Vehbi, of the burns unit at Dora Nginza Hospital, play with one of the patients Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI
STRONG SUPPORT: Andre Potgieter, left, and Chris Black, both of the Wildhorse Motorcycle Club, together with Dr Aydin Vehbi, of the burns unit at Dora Nginza Hospital, play with one of the patients
Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI

Dora Nginza launches programme to lift suffering of young burn victims

A television set and video games will take centre stage in trying to minimise the pain and psychological trauma young burn victims inevitably go through.

Using distraction therapy – internationally considered one of the best practices in pain management – a team of doctors, occupational therapists and nurses at Dora Nginza Hospital hope to heal more than the physical wounds of patients.

They are hoping the new therapy will minimise the secondary effects of being burnt – psychological trauma, stress and anxiety.

Earlier this week, the burn unit was given a new TV and an Xbox gaming console by the Wildhorse Motorcycle Club.

They will be used to distract patients from the pain they experience while their dressings are changed.

The aim of the therapy, according to Dr Aydin Vehbi, of the hospital’s department of burns surgery, is to minimise the amount of pain medication used by patients while diminishing the long-term effects associated with stress and anxiety brought about by repeated dressing changes.

“It’s something we discovered in medical literature. We looked at what literature was available on the internet about the subject, and we wanted to see if there were any facilities that were actively practising [distraction therapy],” he said.

Vehbi found that the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town and the Johnson & Johnson Burn Treatment Centre at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Gauteng were both using the treatment.

The hospital intends rolling out the programme for adults as well, with only the equipment used to conduct the therapy set to change.

Vehbi said the programme would be run under the auspices of the occupational therapy department at the hospital.

“Burn units are one of the prime examples of a multi-disciplinary health team,” he said.

“The role of the doctor in a burns unit is very small. We are involved in the acute phase, we go into theatre, do skin grafts and that’s it.

“The actual recovery and getting that patient back to a normal human being is done by allied professionals – occupational and physiotherapists, as well as your nursing staff spending a lot more time with the patients.

“The distraction therapy is something that will be practised mainly by the nursing staff.”

Vehbi said despite reluctance in the health profession for people to learn new things due to their plates already being full, the response from staff at the unit to jump in and learn was amazing.

Wildhorse club chairman Andre Potgieter said the club had chosen to support the burns unit early last year.

Potgieter, who is also a firefighter, said he had seen the pain and anguish victims endure.

A rally was held in October and all proceeds went into buying the TV and gaming console for the unit.

“I think they [hospital staff] are actual heroes because if you see what they do and what they have to work with – kids in those conditions … We will continue to support them,” Potgieter said.

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