Short-term effects of a vibrotactile neck-based treatment device for positional obstructive sleep apnea: preliminary data on tolerability and efficacy

J Thorac Dis. 2016 Jul;8(7):1820-4. doi: 10.21037/jtd.2016.04.69.


Background: Positional supine obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) characterizes a subgroup of patients suffering from OSAS. Several devices designed to limit supine position have been developed, but evidences of their efficacy and safety are lacking. It is unclear whether a neck-worn vibrating device could induce positional change in patients with positional OSAS. We evaluated the efficacy of a neck-worn device to induce supine avoidance positional feedback over a short-term trial in OSAS patients and its impact on sleep quality and polysomnographyc indexes.

Methods: Twenty patients with positional apneas/hypopneas were prospectively studied. Baseline characteristics of daytime somnolence and risk of sleep apnea were screened and the efficacy of a 3-day trial of supine-avoidance therapy by vibrotactile neck worn device assessed by reporting the self-perceived change in quality of sleep and performing cardio-respiratory polysomnography. Comparison between baseline and treatment results was performed.

Results: The neck device produced a reduction in overall apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) (mean AHI pre =16.8/h and post =4.4/h, P<0.0001), oxygen desaturation (pre =13.7/h and post =3.8/h, P<0.0001) and Respiratory Disturbance Indexes (RDI) (20.0/h vs. 5.2/h; P<0.0001).The time spent in supine position decreased from 62.1% to 33.7% of the total (P<0.001). However, the impact on the perceived quality of sleep was unpredictable.

Conclusions: The neck position therapy device is effective in restricting supine sleep, improving AHI and related polysomnographic indexes. However, at least in a short-term trial, it seems unable to improve the patient's sleep quality.

Keywords: Positional obstructive sleep apnea; polysomnography; positional therapy (PT); sleep quality.