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A New Approach to Medical Research

September 22, 2022

Donor-funded research working with patient partners to understand ICU-acquired weakness

Dr. Asher Mendelson (front) and his team (left to right): Dr. Barret Rush, Dr. Marcus Blouw, Dr. Rodrigo Villar are using advanced non-invasive tools to understand the relationship between blood flow, oxygen delivery, and exercise capacity in ICU survivors.

Up to 80 percent of intensive care unit (ICU) survivors experience long-term health issues after discharge. ICU-acquired weakness is one of the most common side effects of an ICU stay, and leaves patients with weakness in their skeletal muscle. These patients are unable to perform common tasks of daily living (e.g. climbing stairs, brushing hair), which impacts their quality of life and the lives of their family members.

Dr. Asher Mendelson’s study, “Microvascular Monitoring in ICU Survivors to Evaluate ICU-acquired Weakness,is looking at how microcirculation (the smallest blood vessels in the body) might play a major role in a patient’s recovery after they leave the ICU – with the help of HSC Foundation donors and patient partners.

The study’s participants are ICU survivors with lived experience of critical illness, and are providing Dr. Mendelson and his team with valuable insight to help inform their study and to ensure the research aligns with their perspectives in critical illness.

“It’s been an invaluable perspective, and I think this is becoming more and more essential to best research practices. Research used to be on patients, then it was for patients, but now it’s doing research with patients as partners,” says Dr. Mendelson. “I think that’s an important step and has informed how we design our research studies and how we evaluate meaningful outcomes for our research.”

It is becoming increasingly important to understand the long-term effects of critical illness in order to better help ICU survivors recover after discharge. The COVID-19 pandemic only increased this need given the large numbers of patients requiring ICU admission and increased use of critical care resources.

Dr. Mendelson and his team, including clinicians and researchers from the Department of Internal Medicine and Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, are using advanced non-invasive tools to understand the relationship between blood flow, oxygen delivery, and exercise capacity in ICU survivors. These findings will be used to identify patients at high risk for long-term complications and help develop new treatment and rehabilitation strategies to avoid any complications.

“Optimizing their treatments will make it easier for patients in the long term and will also help their caregivers. It is better for the entire health care system,” says Dr. Mendelson. As Dr. Mendelson states, every patient has a different trajectory of recovery, and his study will help doctors better understand and support individual patient’s needs.

Dr. Asher Mendelson is one of five recipients of a 2022 HSC Foundation General Operating Grant: “…by supporting research, you are supporting innovation and best practices in health care—and establishing HSC as a place where innovative and exciting science and health care happen together.”

Dr. Mendelson is grateful for his HSC Foundation grant and the donors who made it possible. “Thank you for supporting this study and understanding that research is an integral part of health care. By supporting research, you are supporting innovation and best practices in health care—and establishing HSC as a place where innovative and exciting science and health care happen together.”

This year, HSC Foundation, with the support of its donors, invested over $355,000 in health care research.

Learn more about Dr. Mendelson’s study and the other research projects funded by 2022 grants by visiting our Grants page.

 

By Andrew Lysack