Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (School of Physiotherapy)

Schools and Centres


First Supervisor

Associate Professor Dale Edgar

Second Supervisor

Professor Benedict Wand

Third Supervisor

Professor Fiona Wood


Decreased quality-of-life and impairments in physical function, muscle strength and muscle volume are known complications of a burn injury. As such, rehabilitation is an important aspect of the burn care journey. Rehabilitation of burn injury is currently hampered by a lack of tools to reliably measure muscle strength and lower limb function, as well as an incomplete understanding of the effect of resistance training after a burn injury. Specifically, there is currently no data on the safety or efficacy of resistance training immediately after a burn injury.

The series of studies presented in this thesis aimed to: 1) systematically review the current literature and evaluate the usefulness of resistance training during recovery from burn injury, 2) determine the ability of the Lower Limb Functional Index-10 to assess lower limb function after a burn injury, 3) determine the reliability and validity of hand held dynamometry to measure strength in people with an acute burn injury, and 4) evaluate the effect of an individually prescribed resistance training programme on quality-of-life, physical function, muscle strength, muscle volume and biochemical markers of inflammation in people with an acute burn injury.

The novel findings from this thesis include: 1) estimates of effectiveness of resistance training in burn injury are based on low quality data and no data is available on acute injury rehabilitation 2) lower limb function can be reliably assessed using the Lower Limb Functional Index-10 after a lower limb burn injury, 3) hand held dynamometry is a reliable and valid assessment of muscle strength in burn injuries up to 40% total burn surface area, 4) resistance training commenced within 72-hours of burn injury improves quality-of-life, upper limb function and blood markers of inflammation compared to sham resistance training, and, 5) resistance training for acute burn injuries appears to be a safe and feasible practice.

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