Introduction: Burns create a myriad of complications that affect the child's developmental, functional and aesthetic status. The WeeFIM is a standardized measure of functional performance developed for use in children 6-months to 8-years of age but with application through adolescence. It includes 18 domains of performance which are scored on a 7-point scale from 'total assistance' to 'complete independence'. In this study, the WeeFIM was used to evaluate the influence of burn size on functional independence and on time to recovery.
Methods: Children, 6 months to 16 years of age, with total body surface area (TBSA) bums of 10-100% burn injury were recruited for a 2-year longitudinal study. Due to unstable WeeFIM measurements on children 6 months to 6 years, analyses on normalized WeeFIM scores among subjects 6-16 years are presented. Children were evaluated at discharge from acute care, 6 months, 1 year and 2 years after burn injury.
Findings: In this analysis, 454 WeeFIM evaluations from 249 patients, 6-16 years of age, were reviewed. While mean WeeFIM scores varied significantly at discharge based on the size of burn, there were no significant differences in any of the WeeFIM scales at 24 months post-burn. At 24 months, the mean WeeFIM score for all children, independent of size of their bum, indicated full independence. Hands-on assistance was not required for performing activities of daily living (ADLs). The rates of improvement differed statistically by size of bum. Maximum improvement was attained by 6 months for 10-15% TBSA burns, 12 months for 16-30% burns, 12 months for 31-50% burns and 24 months for 51-100% TBSA.
Conclusion: The WeeFIM can be utilized by burn centres to describe diminished functional capacity at discharge from acute care for severely burnt children. The tool can be used to track return to baseline independence after a major burn injury in a paediatric population.