‘I can deal with reactions to my scars’: N&N therapist tells of toddler teapot horror

Leanne Miller become an occupational therapist after being inspired by the support she received afte

Leanne Miller become an occupational therapist after being inspired by the support she received after sustaining scald burns to 9pc of her body Picture: supplied by Leanne Miller - Credit: supplied by Leanne Miller

A health care worker has told how she suffered severe burns as a toddler when a teapot tipped over and scalded her.

Leanne Miller is now an occupational therapist, have been inspired by the work of those that helped

Leanne Miller is now an occupational therapist, have been inspired by the work of those that helped her after her own burn experience as a baby. Picture: NNUH - Credit: Archant

Dr Leanne Miller said the trauma played a part in her career as an occupational therapist - the health service’s “best kept secret” - as she helps others with hand and upper limb injuries including burns.

When she was 18 months old she sustained full thickness burns to 9pc of her body, after a table tipped and a teapot of boiling water slid down and scalded her while sitting in a clip-on high chair.

Dr Miller, of Heartsease Lane, said: “In an infant so small this can be very serious.”

She was discharged after a month in a regional burns unit at the Royal Preston Hospital, where she had skin grafts, observations and many dressing changes.

Leanne Miller as a baby after suffering burns to nine per cent of her body. Picture: Leanne Miller

Leanne Miller as a baby after suffering burns to nine per cent of her body. Picture: Leanne Miller - Credit: Archant


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The 37-year-old said as a baby, occupational therapy teams used play and feeding to help her move her left arm and hand normally.

She said: “I have full use of my arm and hand now and am confident to wear what I want and to deal with people’s reactions to my scars. Had it not have been for this experience I may never have discovered occupational therapy.”

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She received treatment for 15 years and recalled how the occupational therapist she worked with measured her up for pressure garments to help flatten the scars, and supported her and her family to deal with the emotional impact of her injury.

As a teenager, Dr Miller began looking at careers, considering nursing, physiotherapy or the police force before realising the “perfect career” had been staring her in the face for years.

Dr Miller, who works as an occupational therapist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “I believe that occupational therapy is the health care system’s best kept secret. It is often confused with physiotherapy and whilst there is some overlap, occupational therapy uses a wide variety of interventions that help people with their daily activities, or the job of living.

“It really is very simple, but often so simple it is overlooked, or indeed undervalued. Occupational therapists help people of all ages who have, or have had, an illness or injury, either mentally, physically or developmentally which prevents them from balancing or engaging in their ‘occupations’ which are meaningful to them, and which form their sense of identity.”

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