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Revolutionary new project into scar assessment begins

The Birmingham Objective Scar Scale (BOSS) is set to help clinicians and patients better understand the effect of future scar free treatments.

A pioneering clinical trial begins in Birmingham this month, funded by The Scar Free Foundation, to validate a new scale to accurately and reliably measure scarring after a burn or traumatic injury.

Scarring affects over 20 million people in the UK, costing the NHS an estimated 4.5 billion pounds every year. The true impact of scarring is widely misunderstood with scarring causing functional, psychological and aesthetic concerns for millions of people.

Historically, research into scar treatments has been hindered by the lack of an objective measurement that accurately tests the impact of a burn injury treatment. Traditionally, measuring the usefulness of a treatment has been carried out using scar questionnaires – but results from this method tend to vary between patients due to the subjective nature of the current tools.

To add an objective measurement to accompany the important patient perspective, the BOSS II study, led by Professor Naiem Moiemen (Director of The Scar Free Foundation Centre for Conflict Wound Research) aims to establish a clinically reliable way to assess scarring. The team will follow 60 patients with a burn injury over a period of 18 months in three different centres (Birmingham, Swansea and Chelmsford) using proven tools to assess the degree of wound and resulting scar. These tools include ultrasound to measure density and thickness, a Cutometer to measure the pliability of skin and a special camera to measure redness and pigmentation. These tools will be used to create a single, combined score of the scar. The next stage of the study, starting this month, is to prove the reliability of the score by matching the predictions of scarring against the eventual clinical outcome for each patient. These tools will then form a collective validated global scar scale to be used for patients with burn injuries. The research is generously supported by The VTCT Foundation.

Professor Moiemen said ‘The Burn Objective Scar Scale (BOSS) will provide patients and health professionals with a definitive and proven score that will prove invaluable for clinical research and instrumental for everyday clinical practice. BOSS will factually demonstrate how scar management is progressing for a particular patient and can direct changes of treatment’.’

Brendan Eley, Chief Executive of The Scar Free Foundation said ‘We are delighted to support this project into creating a proven scar scale. A valid and reliable measurement tool could revolutionise the management of scars and allow patients and clinicians a definitive understanding of the severity and development of their scars. By measuring scars using this new scale, patients will receive a high quality and targeted treatment plan; meaning that a patient’s outcome can be significantly improve and even more scar free outcomes achieved”.

To find out more about our research into burn injuries, visit our website here.