Sleep apnea brace offers comfortable alternate to CPAP mask

Sanford Health doctor and sleep apnea sufferer invents device

Sleep apnea brace offers comfortable alternate to CPAP mask

Sanford Health physician Michael Sand knows exactly how millions of people who suffer from sleep apnea feel after a bad night’s sleep. He has it too.

And like a lot of people who use the oft-prescribed CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, Sand, D.O., was less than satisfied with the device as a treatment. Common complaints include claustrophobia, it’s uncomfortable and they just can’t sleep with it.

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Sand said that of the estimated 20 million people who have sleep apnea, about half of those cases aren’t diagnosed. And, 50 percent of those who do have a CPAP machine don’t use it.

“So in coming up with this device, I wanted to sort of fix that problem by getting away from a mechanical CPAP. It’s something that’s more comfortable for a night’s sleep without the snoring or interrupted breathing caused by sleep apnea,” he said of his invention. ”And it’s portable so you could use this for camping, travel. It could be a much easier way to manage sleep apnea. ”

Serial inventor

Sand has been working with Sanford Health’s commercialization team to further develop this invention, which is not yet commercially available.

“Dr. Sand is a serial inventor who is always thinking of creative ways to better treat patients,” said Braden Bills, a member of the team.

“The idea pretty much comes from CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training where you extend the head and do a jaw lift to sort of open the airway,” Sand said. “So using that concept, this brace will keep the head extended and, along with an oral device to keep the jaw thrust forward, will open the airway.”

The goal is to help the wearer get a good night’s sleep, which is the foundation of good health and can prevent a host of more serious medical issues such as heart attack, stroke, depression, anxiety and obesity, Sand said. “It’s the bedrock of what you need do to keep yourself healthy.”

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Posted In Ear, Nose & Throat, Health Information, Innovations, Sanford Stories