PATIENTS who initially survive devastating burns that cover 80% or more of their bodies undergo profound and prolonged physiological changes. Just 10 years ago, very few of these patients survived. Today, about half of them will.
A burn unit likely to care for these severely burned patients is the US Army Institute for Surgical Research (USAISR), at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Tex. The USAISR is the world's largest institute dedicated to burn research and, since 1949, it has led or participated in nearly every major development in the treatment of burns.
About 250 burned patients, from both civilian and military populations, are treated there a year. The typical patient has partial- and full-thickness burns that cover 40% of the body surface area.
"The burn patient is really a universal trauma model," says Basil A. Pruitt, MD, the US Army colonel who is commander of the institute. "All the changes