CPAP compliance can be challenging under ideal conditions. Not surprisingly, the quality of sleep among soldiers can be a shambles during combat deployment. “Research shows that chronic low-level sleep deprivation impairs reasoning, decision-making, and slows reaction time. You don’t want that in a combat-deployed troop.” Beyond the obvious benefits of reduced accidents and convenient placement in a ruck sack, they found that even post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be affected by poor sleep. Even in cases of clearly identified sleep apnea, most troops could not afford to give up pack space for CPAP devices and batteries.
Armed with findings from one of the largest patient populations to date, Army researchers found that adjustable OAs are nearly as effective as CPAP treatment for patients with mild to moderate OSA, and are more effective than fixed oral appliances—particularly in patients with moderate to severe OSA.
The military is interested in the potential of adjustable OAs, also called mandibular advancement devices, as alternatives to CPAP systems since some active duty service members deploy to remote environments where electricity is not always available. In these cases, reliance on CPAP may result in duty restrictions or separation from service. “Adjustable OAs would eliminate duty assignment limitations associated with CPAP, allowing soldiers to travel to remote areas as needed,” adds Lettieri.
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