After the Lab: Studying Talymed in a Practical Setting
February 12, 2013
A patient lies on a hospital bed, nervous. But there's no reason to be: a nurse is in the room, helping him with a bandage on his foot. She smiles at him and assures him that everything is fine. She's there to make sure he's got the best care and that he knows exactly what's going on with his care and treatment.
Teresa Kelechi is just such a nurse, and more. She's a nurse, but she's also the department chair for the College of Nursing at The Medical University of South Carolina.
"My passion has always been for wound-care in folks who are older and had multiple problems," she says. When she first started out, "there were few professionals or clinicians who were active in either specialty practice or research of venous leg ulcers. So as I worked over the years, first in hospitals and then out-patient settings, I saw thousands of patients and I became increasingly interested in the research part of what I could do for these folks."
When MPT approached her to study their material and how it would work in the treatment of these ulcers, she jumped at the chance. "I became a principal investigator in the study," she says. At the end of the study, Kelechi says the results were exciting. After publishing their findings, Kelechi and her colleagues were eager to continue testing the material and even expanding the scope of their work.
"We're looking at opportunities in other types of populations," she says, "but also we're looking at the effectiveness for other types of ulcers such as pressure ulcers and we’re also looking at post skin-closure treatment. So these ulcers that close are still healing underneath and we’re looking to see if there’s some beneift to improving the skin after the ulcers are closed."
But the results aren't all she's looking for. More than anything, what excites Kelechi, she says, is the opportunity to work directly with patients to help improve their lives. After the laboratory phase, Kelechi's work is all about the person lying in the hospital bed in need. "It's developed in the lab and then we translate that to the practice setting," she explains. "I'm a certified wound-care nurse. I do things that have well-established research behind them and I have 30-plus years of experience with that and I know a lot about the patients so we can tailor our treatments to their needs or their lifestyle."
Kelechi wants to be clear: "We're not doing a one-size-fits-all approach."
The great variety of patients who develop venous leg ulcers means that Kelechi and her colleagues have to take many factors into consideration when developing treatment plans.
"Anyone can develop these ulcers," she says. "So when we tailor treatments to peoples backgrounds and preferences, we definitely consider cost. … We consider functional ability, can they get it on or off, pain management, lifestyle. If someone’s a golfer or whatever, we consider the treatment that will best match their activity, cost is another, we look at age...”
Other factors include the patient’s community, what support services they have available to them, their family and any related issues, and more.
“There’s quite an array of considerations that we must appreciate when working with people with ulcers,” Kelechi says. There are many different kinds of ulcers. Venous leg ulcers, the kind Kelechi works with most often, are caused by poor circulation in the veins. Kelechi says there are a number of conditions that cause these ulcers, with obesity being the most common. Kelechi also says that’s where one of the most common misconceptions about venous leg ulcers comes in: While they are most associated with diabetes, they can actually be caused by injury, obesity, people who work standing up for years, and even arthritis.
“Blood pools in the lower legs,” she says, “and it can’t get up the veins [and an ulcer forms].”
And that’s where treatments like Talymed come in, first studied in the lab, and then extensively tested on patients. "We are excited about our results. We want to work with folks on getting this because our findings show that it works better than some of the other treatments. That was evidenced in that paper by Cheryl Hankin,” Kelechi says.
So what does this all mean for that patient, nervous in the hospital bed? “First and foremost, I’m a nurse,” Kelechi says. She’s dedicated to making sure that patient gets out of that bed, goes home and leads a full life.