A systematic review protocol on the effectiveness of therapeutic exercises utilised by physiotherapists to improve function in patients with burns

Background: Therapeutic exercises play a crucial role in the management of burn injuries. The broad objective of this review is to systematically evaluate the effectiveness, safety and applicability to low-income countries of therapeutic exercises utilised by physiotherapists to improve function in patients with burns. Population = adults and children/adolescents with burns of any aspect of their bodies. Interventions = any aerobic and/or strength exercises delivered as part of a rehabilitation programme by anyone (e.g. physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses, doctors, community workers and patients themselves). Comparators = any comparator. Outcomes = any measure of outcome (e.g. quality of life, pain, muscle strength, range of movement, fear or quality of movement). Settings = any setting in any country. Methods/design: A systematic review will be conducted by two blinded independent reviewers who will search articles on PubMed, CiNAHL, Cochrane library, Medline, Pedro, OTseeker, EMBASE, PsychINFO and EBSCOhost using predefined criteria. Studies of human participants of any age suffering from burns will be eligible, and there will be no restrictions on total body surface area. Only randomised controlled trials will be considered for this review, and the methodological quality of studies meeting the selection criteria will be evaluated using the Cochrane Collaboration tool for assessing risk of bias. The PRISMA reporting standards will be used to write the review. A narrative analysis of the findings will be done, but if pooling is possible, meta-analysis will be considered. Discussion: Burns may have a long-lasting impact on both psychological and physical functioning and thus it is important to identify and evaluate the effects of current and past aerobic and strength exercises on patients with burns. By identifying the characteristics of effective exercise programmes, guidelines can be suggested for developing intervention programmes aimed at improving the function of patients with burns. The safety and precautions of exercise regimes and the optimal frequency, duration, time and intensity will also be examined to inform further intervention. Systematic review registration. PROSPERO CDR42016048370.