Prior to starting at Arkansas Children’s, Miranda Yelvington knew very little about burn care and had to learn the role from the ground up. Working as an occupational therapist, she began to develop a love for her role and actively strives to improve her skills and practices as research is conducted and breakthroughs are made.
Yelvington’s duties are split between working as a staff therapist, primarily for burn therapy and orthopedic rehabilitation, and serving as the rehabilitation research coordinator at Arkansas Children’s. After obtaining her Burn Therapist Certification, Yelvington was invited to join the National Certification Committee and become a reviewer. Reviewing the applications of exceptional therapists allows her to reassess her practice on a frequent basis.
One of her career-defining moments came when Yelvington discovered a new treatment modality for scar management. She had a 3-month-old patient with a burn on her hand. Her family had accidentally dislocated the baby’s thumb while dressing the burn as prescribed. After the thumb was set, Yelvington was tasked with immobilizing it to prevent further injury. Because of the age of the patient, Yelvington decided to use a new and different brace.
When the patient returned for her two week follow-up, Yelvington was surprised to find that the scar that caused the initial dislocation was gone. With the family’s permission, Yelvington discovered that the properties of the brace are the same as the physical properties that improve scars.
“This resulted in a five-year process, my first research project, that led to a multi-patient study, a published manuscript and this intervention now being used world wide for burn care,” she said. “This gave me a whole new outlook on what therapy can accomplish and how it is our responsibility to make sure that others have access to our new findings.”
Yelvington credits that case for starting her love for research and problem solving. She still sees this patient yearly at Burn Camp and, just last year, the girl showed off her cheerleading moves including a handstand and a backbend, highlighting her wrist’s and hand’s full range of motion. For Yelvington, cases like this make the hard days more than worth it.