Associate Professor of Nursing
College of Nursing
There are more than 3 million adults with pressure ulcers in the United States and it costs an estimated $500 to $40,000 to heal each ulcer.
Nursing Professor Joyce Stechmiller is a scientist who studies patient-care issues related to nutrition, immune function and wound healing in adults and the elderly. Most of her research involves chronic wounds such as pressure ulcers affecting elderly patients.
“Elderly subjects with pressure ulcers are a particularly vulnerable population due to compromised immune status and prolonged healing times associated with aging,” Stechmiller says.
To effectively treat chronic wounds, Stechmiller has attempted to advance the knowledge of chronic wounds and translate this knowledge to practical applications at the bedside.
Through a grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research, Stechmiller studied the effect of arginine supplementation on immune factors essential to healing pressure ulcers. Arginine is an amino acid which enhances immune function and the healing of wounds in healthy adult populations, but no studies have examined its effect among elderly nursing home residents with pressure ulcers.
Her research determined that although arginine is metabolically well tolerated in stressed elders, it does not have a significant impact on delayed-type hypersensitivity skin testing or lymphocyte proliferation – important immune factors essential for wound healing.
Through a recent NINR grant, Stechmiller is now studying the healing process of diabetic ulcers.
“Dr. Stechmiller is a nationally recognized expert on the effects of nutrition and immunity in wound healing,” says Maxine Hinze, chair of the Department of Adult and Elderly Nursing. “I am confident that her work will continue to be recognized in the field of wound healing and nutrition in the elderly.”