Severe burns result in prolonged hypermetabolism and skeletal muscle catabolism. Rehabilitative exercise training (RET) programs improved muscle mass and strength in severely burned children. The combination of RET with β-blockade or testosterone analogs showed improved exercise-induced benefits on body composition and muscle function. However, the effect of RET combined with multiple drug therapy on muscle mass, strength, cardiorespiratory fitness, and protein turnover are unknown. In this placebo-controlled randomized trial, we hypothesize that RET combined with oxandrolone and propranolol (Oxprop) will improve muscle mass and function and protein turnover in severely burned children compared with burned children undergoing the same RET with a placebo.Methods
We studied 42 severely burned children (7–17 yr) with severe burns over 30% of the total body surface area. Patients were randomized to placebo (22 control) or to Oxprop (20) and began drug administration within 96 h of admission. All patients began RET at hospital discharge as part of their standardized care. Muscle strength (N·m), power (W), V˙O2peak, body composition, and protein fractional synthetic rate and fractional breakdown rate were measured pre-RET (PRE) and post-RET (POST).Results
Muscle strength and power, lean body mass, and V˙O2peak increased with RET in both groups (P < 0.01). The increase in strength and power was significantly greater in Oxprop versus control (P < 0.01), and strength and power was greater in Oxprop over control POST (P < 0.05). Fractional synthetic rate was significantly higher in Oxprop than control POST (P < 0.01), resulting in improved protein net balance POST (P < 0.05).Conclusions
Rehabilitative exercise training improves body composition, muscle function, and cardiorespiratory fitness in children recovering from severe burns. Oxprop therapy augments RET-mediated improvements in muscle strength, power, and protein turnover.