Yoga and Cutaneous Functional Unit Recruitment for a Patient with Cervical and Upper Extremity Burn Scar Contracture: Case Report

Brooke Dean, Joseph Puthumana, Scott Vocke, Laurie Neely, Ashley Modica, Julie Caffrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Burn scar contracture greatly limits function for burn survivors, particularly when the scarring crosses multiple joints. Previous research has identified fields of skin recruited during single joint motion, called cutaneous functional units (CFU), indicating that impairments may be seen distal to the injured tissue. This case report connects the principles of CFU and yoga-inspired therapy modalities in improving clinical outcomes for a burn survivor. The patient is a 38-year-old male who sustained deep partial-thickness electrical burns to his neck, chest, and bilateral upper extremities, presenting with significantly decreased range of motion. The patient attended physical therapy 4 days a week, where he performed a specific yoga asana program during each session. Outcomes including standard range of motion measures, the Vancouver Scar Scale (VSS), and the Neck Disability Index (NDI), which were recorded every 10 sessions. CFUs of cervical extension and shoulder flexion were analyzed via photographs comparing cutaneous position during specified yoga poses and resting anatomical position in standing. Over 30 visits, cervical and shoulder range of motion increased, although the VSS and NDI did not show significant improvement. Yoga poses showed overall cutaneous recruitment distal to the targeted joints, and burned skin was recruited similarly to nonburned skin in positions of stretch. Incorporating multijoint approaches for stretching, like yoga, appears to contribute to improved clinical range-of-motion outcomes when paired with traditional burn-rehabilitation interventions. Yoga poses involving multiple joints align with the principle of CFUs, warranting continued investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational journal of yoga therapy
Issue number2022
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • burn rehabilitation
  • burn scar contracture
  • cutaneous functional unit
  • yoga

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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