Stories

Conditions we treat: Burn contractures





According to a 2019 report conducted by the International Energy Agency, around 600 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa don’t have access to electricity. In the countries where CURE serves, fire isn’t just for camping or hanging out on the back porch with some friends – it’s an essential tool people use to survive. Most people cook over an open fire outside the house, and it’s common to find families sleeping around a fire as the night gets cold. Unfortunately, the mixture of open fires and high-energy kids often ends in disaster.

There are many ways kids get burned. CURE patient Abdoul Malik tripped and fell hands first into a vat of boiling oil on the ground. Likewise, Tassiou’s clothes caught fire while he was sleeping next to a fire to keep warm. Situations like these seem innocent and safe at first but often lead to terrible accidents.

The limited access to necessary medical care moves these burns from mere injuries to disabilities. The burns do indeed heal with time, but without medical intervention, the burn will often lead to contractures. Burn contractures are essentially skin that has melted and hardened in places that limit mobility. Common areas are between fingers, across armpits, or even between a child’s head and shoulder, pulling their head down into their torso.

Since children are not born with burn contractures, they remember what it is like to move freely without restrictions. Unfortunately, this presents emotional challenges for many children with this condition. However, burn contractures are treatable through surgery and dedicated physical therapy. Saadou, pictured below, is a young boy who had a bad burn contracture connecting his elbow to his chest. It was so severe he could barely move his arm more than a few inches from his body. After surgery and physical therapy, his arm is free, and he has regained his mobility.

There are thousands of children out there who, without your help, would still be living lives restricted by burn contractures. And there are countless more needlessly suffering who haven’t received medical attention. With your help, CURE can continue to reach out and children where they are and share the hope and healing offered at their hospitals worldwide.

CURE allows everyone to participate in the transforming surgeries at our hospitals. You don’t need to understand words like bilateral, ventricle, genu valgum, congenital, or cerebral-spinal fluid to participate in the life-changing and life-saving work. Understanding the conditions CURE treats allows a deeper appreciation of your donation. Thank you! 

To support a child’s surgery, click here.