National study to improve burns treatment for children

Testing the efficacy of an innovative paediatric burns treatment is the aim of a new National Health and Medical Research Council partnership project awarded to Griffith University.

Led by Dr Bronwyn Griffin from the Wiser Wound Care Centre for Research Excellence, the researchers will partner with Australia’s four major paediatric burns centres in NSW, QLD, VIC and WA to assess the implementation and clinical efficacy of negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT).

“More than 4000 children a year are treated for acute burns in Australia’s paediatric burn centres,’’ Dr Griffin said.

“Improving time to wound healing is a direct predictor of risk of hypertrophic scarring (severe), a devastating and hard to treat outcome that affects 16% to 35% of paediatric burns patients.”

NPWT is a wound dressing system that provides sub-atmospheric pressure within a closed dressing, providing a positive pressure to the surface of a burn wound — drawing out fluid and infection.

“Early studies of NPWT for burns has shown improved time to healing by an average of 22% with a 60% reduced risk of long-term scar management referral and decreased cost per patient compared to standard silver dressings,’’ Dr Griffin said.

“Providing this therapy to children within the first 72 hours post-burn injury would mean more will have access to this superior treatment, improving healing time and decreasing the child’s risk of acquiring avoidable long-term burden.

“Results from this study will transform policy and practice to improve outcomes for all Australian paediatric burns patients.”

The NHMRC grant provides funding of $1.4 million over four years with matched contributions from hospitals across Australia bringing it to a total of $3 million.