Revolutionising sleep apnea management

Posted 12 Mar 2024
Could a cheap, commercially available, under-mattress sensor device revolutionise the way sleep apnea is diagnosed and managed?

Flinders University sleep researcher Associate Professor Ching Li Chai-Coetzer has been awarded a Finders Foundation Health Seed Grant to explore alternative diagnosis and monitoring of uncomplicated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), opening the possibility of helping more people promptly, and freeing up sleep-laboratory waiting lists.

OSA is a highly prevalent sleep disorder affecting up to 20 per cent of Australians with repetitive upper airways obstruction, nighttime oxygen desaturations and sleep disruption. Untreated OSA is associated with adverse health effects, including daytime sleepiness, motor vehicle accidents, neurocognitive dysfunction, mood disorders and cardiovascular disease.

At present, care for patients with suspected OSA involves a referral from a GP to a sleep physician, followed by full sleep study testing through a sleep laboratory – a costly and labour-intensive process with often long wait times, particularly in public hospitals.

But using a contactless sensor mat placed under a patient’s mattress, combined with ‘smart’ blood pressure monitoring, weight scales and a mobile phone app, could be part of a more simple and cost-effective diagnosis and treatment strategy for some patients.

“This study has significant potential to create a paradigm shift and revolutionise the way that OSA is currently diagnosed and managed by providing GPs and nurses with the training and tools to diagnose and manage this highly prevalent sleep disorder through use of a simpler, more cost-effective sleep assessment system that is capable of both diagnosis and long-term monitoring of treatment progress,” Associate Professor Chai-Coetzer explains. 

Project Title: A Pilot Study to Evaluate the Utility of an Under‐Mattress Sensor and Smart Monitoring System for the Diagnosis and Management of Obstructive Sleep Apnea within Primary Care

This project is one of 31 exciting new health and medical research projects to receive funding in Flinders Foundation’s annual health seed grant thanks to donations from generous individuals and funds raised by supporters and organisation.

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