Thursday, December 10, 2009

It’s all about Technique: Examining the Tennis Ball Technique

There are more than 18 million Americans suffering from sleep apnea. They have different severity levels of apnea and use different methods to treat their condition.

One way people treat apnea is with the Tennis Ball Technique (TBT).

A tennis ball is fastened to the person’s back with a belt or strap to prevent them from lying on their back during sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by the collapse of the soft tissues in a person’s throat, so side-sleeping is meant to take the weight off of a person’s throat, helping them breathe.

Unfortunately, an Australian study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine shows that many patients do not comply with the TBT.

The researchers prescribed 108 OSA patients with TBT. Approximately 2.5 years later, they sent out a questionnaire and received responses from 67 of the patients.

Less than 10 percent of the patients still used the TBT 30 months after the study launch.

Patients complained that the ball was uncomfortable, hurt their back, and did not improve their apnea.

TBT is one form of behavioral therapy. Other OSA patients try to lose weight, not drink alcohol, or stop smoking.

As shown in this study, behavior therapy may not be effective due to compliance issues.

Patients can also use oral appliance therapy (OAT) or CPAP to treat their apnea. Oral appliance therapy is performed by a dentist who fits his or her patient with an oral appliance, which the patient then wears while sleeping. This device repositions the patient’s lower jaw and tongue forward to allow air to flow in and out during sleep.

Read more about the study at the Sleep Education blog.

Image by Rustman

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.