Methods and tools used for the measurement of burn scar contracture

J Burn Care Res. Nov-Dec 2010;31(6):888-903. doi: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e3181f9354f.


After burn injury, scar contracture can cause significant impairment and functional deficit. Many studies have investigated the treatment and prevention of burn scar contracture, but few studies have focused on the methods for measuring contracture. The purpose of this study was to determine whether consistent and objective methods of measurement are used to quantify scar contracture in the clinical evaluation of burn patients and in burn research. A survey was administered to 407 burn therapists to determine the methods and tools used clinically to measure scar contracture, while a review of recent burn literature was conducted to determine the methods and tools used in burn research. The results of the survey indicate that there is a lack of consensus in the methods and tools used for the measurement of scar contracture, both clinically and in research. Instead, a variety of measurement methods was reported, each with varying degrees of objectivity. Clinically, the methods are rarely checked for reliability or performance competency. In burn research, the methods and tools vary, and contracture data obtained are often reported in an inconsistent manner. If the measurement of scar contracture is not done objectively and consistently, then it is difficult to determine reliability, validity, and responsiveness of the measurement methods. Development of standard protocols with reliable measures of scar contracture would improve the quality of burn care and research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Burns / complications*
  • Burns / physiopathology*
  • Burns / rehabilitation
  • Cicatrix, Hypertrophic / etiology*
  • Cicatrix, Hypertrophic / physiopathology*
  • Contracture / etiology*
  • Contracture / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy Specialty
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires