Combat casualty hand burns: evaluating impairment and disability during recovery

J Hand Ther. 2008 Apr-Jun;21(2):150-8; quiz 159. doi: 10.1197/j.jht.2007.12.003.


This study evaluated the use of the American Medical Association (AMA) impairment guides and Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) questionnaire in U.S. military casualties recovering from burn injury to the hand. Study sample included patients with burns to at least one hand and complete evaluations of impairment and disability upon discharge from the hospital and at a follow-up visit less than four months later. AMA and DASH scores were calculated for each visit and standardized response means (SRMs) were calculated to indicate responsiveness. Correlation between impairment and disability was assessed at discharge and follow-up and scores were examined for ability to discriminate between casualties returned to duty (RTD) and casualties not returned to duty (N-RTD). Both outcome instruments revealed a statistically significant change in scores between visits (p<0.001) with corresponding SRM indexes greater than 0.8 (large effect). There was a moderate correlation (r=0.50) between impairment and disability at discharge and a moderately high correlation (r=0.74) at follow-up. Both AMA and DASH scores clearly discriminated between casualties RTD (AMA 10+/-10 and DASH 12+/-12) and casualties N-RTD (AMA 39+/-19 and DASH 41+/-17) with improved accuracy at follow-up visit. The AMA and DASH can provide a comprehensive assessment of impairment and disability and may be used to detect changes in patient health status over time while clearly discriminating between RTD and N-RTD in combat casualties recovering from burn injury to the hand(s).

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burns / physiopathology*
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Hand Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Hand Injuries / therapy
  • Humans
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel*
  • Recovery of Function / physiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States