occupational therapist

What’s the Big Deal About Scars, Anyway? An Occupational Therapist Explains.

By Krystle Hofstetter, MScOTR/L, Occupational Therapist at FOCUS

Almost all of us have one, yet we try our best to pretend they don’t exist. They vary in size, shape, color and even texture. Some are new, while others we’ve had as long as we can remember. Some are painful, even years after they formed. 

We’re talking about scars.

What all scars have in common is that each has related scar tissue that compromises the balance and function of surrounding tissue. In some cases, it can even be detrimental to other areas of our bodies. Scar tissue does not remain just at the scar site. Rather, it continues to grow like a vine throughout our bodies over the years, causing or contributing to problems down the road.

Children especially may have trouble with scars because their bodies are still growing. Adults may experience chronic pain, tightness and unease if scars aren’t treated properly.

As a Fort Myers occupational therapist, I recognize that untreated scars may hinder development and wound recovery in several surprising ways. The good news there is a method to help address these issues. It’s called Scar Release Treatment, and it produces little to no pain and could have long-lasting benefits for you and/ or your child.

How Does Scar Tissue Affect Healing/ Health?

As Columbia University Medical Center notes, a scar is a natural part of the body’s healing process, resulting from the biologic process of wound repair in the skin and other tissues. Most wounds result in scars, which are composed of fibrous tissues. Among the many reasons scars form:

  • Skin conditions
  • Surgeries
  • Accidents
  • Diseases

Scar tissue also contains different electrical polarity than the surrounding healthy tissue. Polarity is the inherent balance in our body. Our body sends electrical charges of energy to organs, endocrine system and cells. When polarity changes in the tissue around a scar, this electrical signal can get disrupted, affecting important messages from getting to various parts of the body. The result is often one or more of the following problems: Blood supply is decreased or cut off to parts of the body (poor circulation), joint pain and/or chronic pain, decreased range of motion, poor posture, fatigue, itching and/or tingling, and fascial tension. Scar tissue can make it difficult for the body to fully absorb nutrients from food and/or vitamins. Interestingly, it may also make it unlikely you’ll receive the full benefits of prescription medication.

Large, obvious scars may also contribute to teasing, bullying, isolation and other adverse social effects.

What Can an Occupational Therapist Do to Help with Scars?

Occupational therapy involves the use of clinically-proven strategies to promote physical and mental well-being and help – and scar tissue negatively affects both of these functions.

Our goal is to first release the restrictions and tightness at the scar site. This restores balance, decreases pain and improves mobility and circulation so the body can function better. But we do not overlook the aesthetic aspect. Whenever possible, we aim to reduce the physical appearance of the scar, too, which can help ease social anxiety.

The way our occupational therapists do all this is with Scar Release Treatments (SRT). These treatments are simple, quick, involve minimal to no pain and can be conducted at our FOCUS Fort Myers clinic.

With SRT, scars are treated with MPS units (microcurrent point stimulation) which uses D/C (direct current) versus A/C (alternating current) – which is key to healing the tissue. Because the D/C emitted from the MPS units is low frequency and simulates the natural energy of our bodies, it is not harmful in any form and should always be the go-to treatment tried first. In fact, MPS SRT treatment can be used immediately after a wound is made (including right after surgery!) and can serve to speed the healing of an open wound.

It should be noted that even scars that are not painful or unsightly can negatively impact health. They can cause tightness, pain, imbalance and dysfunction throughout the body.

Pain and tightness are NOT merely “a normal part of aging.” Don’t just accept the pain or dysfunction of your scar! An experienced occupational therapist can help both children and adults with painful scars.

I have seen some wonderful changes with Scar Release Therapy treatment, and I’m more than happy to help. If you or your child have scars that need attention, call the office or email me directly at [email protected] .

FOCUS offers pediatric and adult occupational therapy services in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

Additional Resources:

MPS Scar/ Adhesion Release Therapy, Dolphin Neurostim

More Blog Entries:

Occupational Therapy Can Help Victims of Childhood Trauma, March 23, 2017, Fort Myers Occupational Therapist Blog

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