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New technology helping those suffering from sleep apnea

Inspire - Sleep Apnea Innovation
Posted at 10:09 AM, Dec 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-12 12:37:46-05

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — According to Houston Sleep Solutions, around 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea.

Those with down syndrome can be more at risk for sleep apnea, but new medical advancements are helping those who suffer from sleep apnea find more restful nights of sleep.

Sleep apnea is an effect of the muscles in your neck relaxing too much, allowing a collapse in the airway. Which, if untreated, can turn into long-term effects.

"When you have younger patients with sleep apnea, it can cause cardiovascular problems as they get older. And in children, it can cause problems with their learning down the road," said Dr. Robert Sonnenburg, an ear, nose and throat physician with BayCare Clinic.

One of the most common and traditional treatments for sleep apnea is a CPAP Machine, but the machine can prove to be an issue for those that have down syndrome.

"For those who have down syndrome, their cranial anatomy puts them at a higher risk for having obstructions sleep apnea as they have a tendency to have a lower muscle tone, which also puts them at higher risk," said Dr. Sonnenburg.

Katie Lancelle has been struggling with sleep apnea ever since her mother can remember, and the traditional CPAP machine did little to nothing for her.

"Our struggle through the many, many years, was that we could never find a mask that could fit her properly," said Nancy Lancelle, Katie's mother. "Katie would have 33 to 34 episodes an hour just because the machine didn't fit her right."

A new device, created by Inspire, has allowed Katie and others that struggle to use a traditional CPAP Machine get a better night's sleep.

Inspire has created a small device, that is connected to an implant in the body, that keeps the airway open using a gentle pulse when you sleep.


Katie was a recipient of Inspire, which was placed during a same-day, outpatient procedure. Thanks to the little device, her nighttime routine was nearly cut in half.

"Now that she goes to sleep, and we just hit a button and she gets good sleep, it's just so important," said Katie's mom.

Katie has had the device for a little over a year now, and her mom says she can see parts of her daughter start to return.

"I would say she has so much more energy and there are no more daytime naps or anything like that," said Nancy Lancelle.

Patient Outcomes, as reported by Inspire, show that 79% of people see a reduction in sleep apnea events after switching from a traditional CPAP Machine.