Shriners Hospitals for Children-Boston is a non-profit organization. As such, it is not uncommon for Shriners-Boston to partner with other like-minded non-profit or for-profit organizations to increase awareness of our mission and values. Throughout the years, Shriners-Boston has had the opportunity to work alongside many wonderful organizations whose commitment to burn awareness education and the health and safety of those in our community, particularly young children, mirrors our own.
When a child with a severe burn is admitted to Shriners-Boston for treatment, addressing the wound site is the first and most obvious course of action. Equally important, and perhaps not as widely recognized when it comes to immediate burn patient care, is the prevention of malnourishment and attention given to proper nutritional care.
Nutritionists play a vital role in the recovery of burn patients, as diet is crucial to the healing process. Patients who’ve incurred burns over large areas of their body often enter into what is known as a hypermetabolic state. In a hypermetabolic state, the body begins to break down its own muscle to get protein needed to heal wounds. In addition to this serious condition, the trauma inflicted by burn wounds often causes the body to burn calories at an alarming rate as it attempts to heal, a process known as “physiologic stress.” If not treated properly, a child can easily and quickly lose a great deal of weight and become malnourished.
Cleft lip and cleft palate, which can appear together or separately, are birth defects which occur in the upper lip and roof of the mouth. Approximately one in 700 children is born with cleft lip and/or palate. The greatest success in correcting these deformities results when significant surgery is performed in the first year of life.
“Clefting” occurs when the palate (roof of the mouth) or sections of the upper lip do not completely grow together before a child’s birth.
Shriners Hospitals for Children–Boston surgeon Michael Lewis, MD, notes that cleft lip and/or palate are among the most common birth defects that plastic surgeons correct. This congenital issue affects a child’s appearance, ability to eat, communicate and even breathe. “Our goal is to make the child completely normal. It is a process that may take multiple operations.”