The impact of burn injury on the central nervous system

Amira Allahham, Grant Rowe, Andrew Stevenson, Mark W. Fear, Ann Maree Vallence, Fiona M. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Burn injuries can be devastating, with life-long impacts including an increased risk of hospitalization for a wide range of secondary morbidities. One area that remains not fully understood is the impact of burn trauma on the central nervous system (CNS). This review will outline the current findings on the physiological impact that burns have on the CNS and how this may contribute to the development of neural comorbidities including mental health conditions. This review highlights the damaging effects caused by burn injuries on the CNS, characterized by changes to metabolism, molecular damage to cells and their organelles, and disturbance to sensory, motor and cognitive functions in the CNS. This damage is likely initiated by the inflammatory response that accompanies burn injury, and it is often long-lasting. Treatments used to relieve the symptoms of damage to the CNS due to burn injury often target inflammatory pathways. However, there are non-invasive treatments for burn patients that target the functional and cognitive damage caused by the burn, including transcranial magnetic stimulation and virtual reality. Future research should focus on understanding the mechanisms that underpin the impact of a burn injury on the CNS, burn severity thresholds required to inflict damage to the CNS, and acute and long-term therapies to ameliorate deleterious CNS changes after a burn.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbertkad037
Number of pages14
JournalBurns and Trauma
Early online date1 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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