Physical fitness in people after burn injury: a systematic review

Laurien M. Disseldorp, Marianne K. Nieuwenhuis, Margriet E. Van Baar, Leonora J. Mouton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To gain insight into the physical fitness of people after burn injury compared with healthy subjects, and to present an overview of the effectiveness of exercise training programs in improving physical fitness in people after burn injury.

DATA SOURCES: Electronic databases EMBASE, PubMed, and Web of Science were searched for relevant publications. Additionally, references from retrieved publications were checked.

STUDY SELECTION: The review includes studies that provide quantitative data from objective measures of physical fitness of both the intervention group and the control group.

DATA EXTRACTION: Characteristics of each study such as study design, institution, and intervention are reported, as well as mean ages and burn sizes of the subjects. Results are divided into 5 components of physical fitness-muscular strength, muscular endurance, body composition, cardiorespiratory endurance, and flexibility-and reported for each component separately.

DATA SYNTHESIS: Eleven studies met the inclusion criteria, and their methodological quality was assessed using the PEDro score and a modified Sackett scale. Six studies were used for the comparison of physical fitness in burned and nonburned subjects, and 9 studies for evaluating the effectiveness of exercise training programs.

CONCLUSIONS: Physical fitness is affected in people with extensive burns, and exercise training programs can bring on relevant improvements in all components. However, because of the great similarities in the subjects and protocols used in the included studies, the current knowledge is incomplete. Future research should include people of all ages with a broad range of burn sizes, for both short-term and long-term outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1501-1510
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • body composition
  • burns
  • exercise therapy
  • humans
  • muscle strength
  • physical endurance
  • physical fitness
  • range of motion
  • psychopathology
  • methods


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