Sleep disorders are simultaneously among the most common diseases and the least diagnosed. Symptoms range from low energy, irritability, and concentration difficulties to sleep attacks, cardiac arrhythmias, and hallucinations. Considering the USA, more than 70 million people possibly have a sleep disorder, and a National Science Foundation’s poll found nearly half “rarely or never get a good night’s sleep on weeknights” and upwards of 20% are “sleepy.” Aside from affecting immune system function, cognitive abilities, and metabolism, consequences of sleep deprivation affect economies annually through billions of dollars in lost productivity.
Diagnosing sleep disorders is a comprehensive process and substantial time commitment, requiring patient-monitoring for 12–36 hours in a sleep center. As the setting is unfamilar and patients must sleep by a certain time—even if they wouldn’t normally—patients often cite difficulty sleeping or exhibit abnormal nocturnal patterns. At ~$3000 per sleep study, polysomnography is expensive, inaccessible, and doctors hesitate to repeat studies. A multiple sleep latency test (MSLT), or nap study, that occurs following polysomnography can raise price-tags another ~$1500. As healthcare moves toward personalized medicine, development of reliable portable polysomnography could potentially revolutionize sleep medicine and open the eyes of countless sleep-deprived individuals.
A portable polysomnography pack (PPP) would include components that record parameters measured in clinical polysomnography: nasal airflow, respiratory effort, pulse oximetry, snoring, EEG, EOG, ECG, and EMG. The PPP would arrive via mail at patient’s residence in advance of polysomnography or be available at their doctor’s office, containing: set-up guide, single-use and wireless EEG headpiece/electrodes/pulse oximeter/sound/pressure transducer, belts/straps, data card, data acquisition console, power supply, electrode glue, prepaid return postage. A phone number would be available for patients to call during initial set-up, then with future questions or concerns. Should an electrode become unattached during the study, an alarm on the console would sound to alert the patient to awaken and reattach it; this would be noted as an event (artifact). Extra supplies would be included and unused materials returned along with the non-disposable items when the PPP is mailed/returned using the original box. Remote monitoring should be considered to ensure proper functioning of the PPP and for emergency aid. Upon receiving the post-polysomnography PPP from the patient, polysomnography and MSLT data would be downloaded from the data card and analyzed using specially-designed software. PPP’s could be further-personalized depending upon what sleep disorder the doctor suspects, reducing the PPP size and/or amount of materials sent.
Having patients undergo polysomnography in the comfort of their own home and without sleep technicians will reduce costs, access a broader patient population, provide more accurate results, and allow for repeat studies, as is often necessary. A PPP gives doctors the opportunity to look closely at a frequently-heard complaint: fatigue. Therefore, initial marketing would target sleep specialists, neurologists, and internists, followed by educating the general public on the prevalence of sleep disorders and importance of diagnosis/treatment. Medicine would gain insight into incidences and types of sleep disorders, leading to more diagnoses and greatly improving the quality of—and potentially saving—lives.
ABOUT THE ENTRANT
Name: Julia Leusner
Type of entry: individual
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MS Word, MS Paint, IrfanView
Patent status: none