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Inspire Journey, Part 2: Device Activation

Now 30 days after surgery, patients are ready to reap the benefits

In part 1 of our series, we met Brian, Ron and Terri. Following years of struggles with obstructive sleep apnea, the 3 turned to the Inspire device, a revolutionary implantable technology that delivers mild stimulation to keep the airway clear to promote restful sleep. With the implant procedure and 30 days of healing behind them, the patients are ready for customized device activation.

The University of Kansas Health System's sleep disorders team of specialized physicians – including otolaryngologist Chris Larsen, MD, and neurologist Suzanne Stevens, MD – nurses and technicians worked together to activate Inspire and calibrate it to suit each patient. During this process, the team used the remote control to perform tests to determine the effective level of stimulation for each patient. The goal is to identify the signal strength sufficient to trigger the response of the tongue to move forward out of the airway.

Each patient will return home with the custom-set sensory level. Each patient can then use Inspire's remote to fine-tune the stimulation level based on experience.

What was it like to have the device turned on?

Brian: The team customized the device to adjust for the level of stimulation I needed. They showed me how to use the remote control, which turns on Inspire when you go to bed, and adjust the stimulation level.

Ron: They explained how the program will run for 8 hours before resetting and showed me how to use the remote to pause the program if I'm awake during the night.

What effects did you notice in your first few nights with Inspire?

Brian: I didn't start sleeping through the night right away. I still wake up several times during the night. But I do feel better and only took 1 daytime nap since turning on Inspire, and that was on a snow day. My wife says I'm not snoring anymore, and sometimes she checks whether I'm still breathing because I'm so quiet.

Ron: I had some trouble sleeping at first, as I kept anticipating each stimulation. It seemed I would wake in the night as usual, but it didn't take as long to fall back asleep. In less than 2 weeks, I was elated. For 2 nights, I slept all the way through. It had been years since that happened, and it was amazing.

Terri: In my first 2 weeks of using Inspire, I turned the device up several times. My husband noticed that when I started to snore, the device stopped me. That is awesome! There's just no comparison between sleeping with Inspire versus the old machines and masks. It's a total turnaround to have this implanted device.

What was it like to work with the team at The University of Kansas Health System?

Brian: Everyone has been just fantastic. I feel like a rock star here. The team is top-notch, class A-1. It's clear these people are brilliant, but they're also down to earth, very human. I feel like they really care.

Ron: There absolutely could not be a better care team. This is the greatest place I've ever been for medical needs. Dr. Larsen is a great guy with a great sense of humor, and Dr. Stevens is fantastic. We rave about this place. My wife and I have thought about moving to the ocean somewhere, but the medical care here is just so incredible, we don't want to leave it.

Terri: Everyone is wonderful, very helpful and supportive, especially Dr. Larsen and his nurse, Jill. Jill was very detailed in explaining the process to me from end to end, and that was so helpful in terms of understanding what to expect. I also appreciate the Inspire team. They provided a lot of help through my process to get insurance approval. I hope this will become easier for others in the future as insurance companies learn that Inspire isn't just for better sleep, but also offers health benefits such as better heart function.

Our patients will spend about 30 days adjusting to the device. Each will then return for a sleep study designed to evaluate Inspire's effects on their sleep patterns.

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