Purpose: Describe the course of exercise capacity in pediatric burn patients during the initial 6 months after hospital discharge, and examine whether its recovery can be predicted from burn characteristics, sociodemographic characteristics, and/or prior assessment.Materials and methods: Exercise capacity was assessed at discharge, and 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months after discharge using the Steep Ramp Test (SRT).Results: Twenty-four pediatric patients with burns affecting 0.1-34% of total body surface area were included. At group level, exercise capacity was low at discharge and did not reach healthy reference values within 6 months, despite significant improvement over time. At individual level, the course of exercise capacity varied widely. Six months after discharge, 48% of participants scored more than one standard deviation below healthy age- and sex-specific reference values. SRT outcomes at 6 weeks and 3 months were the best predictors of exercise capacity 6 months after discharge, explaining, respectively, 76% and 93% of variance.Conclusions: Forty-eight percent of participants did not achieve healthy reference values of exercise capacity and were therefore considered "at risk" for diminished functioning. Our preliminary conclusion that early assessment of exercise capacity with the SRT can timely identify those patients, needs to be strengthened by further research.IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATIONPediatric burns can be considered as a chronic medical condition because of the lifelong consequences.Exercise capacity is reduced following- even minor -pediatric burns.Recovery patterns vary widely: some pediatric burn patients achieve healthy levels of exercise capacity without specific intervention, while others do not.The Steep Ramp Test can be used to assess exercise capacity, identifying those "at risk" for adverse outcomes at an early stage.Patients "at risk" should be encouraged to play sports and adopt an active lifestyle.
- burn patients