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A news story from the BBC mentioned today that a truck driver has been acquitted of killing the driver of another vehicle because the truck driver had been diagnosed with sleep apnea. In the aftermath of the trial, the victim’s father is calling for Great Britain to test all truckers for sleep apnea.

This is an understandable reaction. And the concept of testing is not without merit. In fact, we certainly support the testing of over the road truckers, bus drivers, pilots, air traffic controllers … anyone, in fact, who demonstrates certain risk factors of sleep apnea.

That’s important. “Blanket” testing of everybody, as some have called for, is not reasonable. But it certainly is reasonable to find a way to identify people who are at risk and, if their employment requires them to have the safety of others in their hands, get them tested for sleep apnea.

Certain factors that should be considered collectively are body mass index, neck circumference measurement, and signs of poor sleep … excessive daytime tiredness, frequent headaches, tendency to doze off even briefly at inappropriate times.

What do you think?

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Mark R. Stoiber, 47, President of the Sleep Wellness Institute in West Allis (Milwaukee), Wis.,  passed away unexpectedly on July 2, 2010.

Mark, along with his business partner and dear friend, Ron Baake, was co-owner of the Sleep Wellness Institute since its inception in 1994.  He had been involved in helping people with sleep disorders for more than 20 years.  He was the co-founder and initial driving force behind the non-profit Reggie White Sleep Disorders Research and Education Foundation.

Mark graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a degree in allied health and earned his polysomnographic  technologist registration at the Stanford School of  Sleep Medicine.  He formerly served as the coordinator of the sleep disorders center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.  He was a frequent public speaker and lecturer on sleep disorders topics and was the author of “How to Guarantee Your Experience with CPAP is a Happy One.”

Always alert to new opportunities to serve, Mark created the CPAP2GO retail stores that now operate in the Milwaukee area.  He recognized that many people get inferior customer service from DME providers, and correctly determined that by offering convenient locations and hours, excellent customer service, and a wide selection of products from which to choose the stores would be successful in reaching CPAP users.

Mark’s knowledge, creativity, wit and willingness to think outside the box made him great.  He will be sorely missed.

Golfers, don’t miss the chance to play one of the midwest’s most highly rated courses and support the Mission of the Reggie White Sleep Disorders Foundation as Philips Respironics hosts the 4th Annual “Reggie” on Tuesday, Sept. 21, at the 5-star rated Hawks View Golf Club in Lake Geneva, Wis.

For just $700 per foursome, you can enjoy a sensational day of golf, mingling with celebrities, great food, a dynamite auction, and most importantly helping a great cause!  Each foursome will be matched with a celebrity golfer from the worlds of sports, television and radio, or with a Wisconsin golf pro who can offer you tips to improve your game as you play a spectacular course.  To check out Hawks View, please click here.

Among the celebrities already signed up to play are former Green Bay Packers star fullback William Henderson and former Packer and now golf long drive champion Bill Schroeder.  Bill will also put on a special Trick Shot and Long Drive Exhibition sponsored by Advanced Ear Nose and Throat Specialists of Milwaukee.  Additional celebrities include Milwaukee Wave Head Coach Keith Tozer, Milwaukee Panthers Head Basketball Coach Rob Jeter, Stephanie Sutton of WISN-TV Sports, Golf radio host Chuck Garbedian, former Wisconsin Badger football stars Derek Engler, Jamie Vanderveldt and Tarek Saleh, former Marquette University and Los Angeles Laker star Tony Smith, and a group from Todays TMJ4 that includes Susan Kim, Lance Allan, Brian Gotter, and Heather Shannon.

For more information or to sign up for the event, please click here.

And by the way, we’ve decided that having a thunderstorm in the middle of the event last year wasn’t such a great idea, so we’ll be skipping that this time around!

Steve Gardner

Executive Director

Over the last two years, the Sleep Wellness Institute has partnered with Kleen Test Products (KTP) to study the effect of screening, testing and treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) on a volunteer segment of their employee population. Through numerous benefits programs, Kleen Test rewards employees for healthy lifestyles and offers many programs to improve the well-being of all who work for them. This study offered a unique opportunity to learn about OSA, provide treatment to those employees affected and determine if OSA increased employee/employer healthcare costs.

KTP has a workforce of 585 employees. Our original recruitment target was to get sixty volunteer employees to come forward – with 20 in each group. After recruitment we were able to start with 65 employees (representing 11% of the company’s workforce.)
To cost-effectively determine which employees had OSA, we initially used an at-home portable ApneaLink screening device for one night. Those employees who showed potential OSA from the results of the ApneaLink screening were given an overnight sleep study. The results of each sleep study were interpreted by a board certified sleep physician to confirm if the employee had OSA. The results of the sleep studies demonstrated that 33 of the KTP employees showed no evidence of OSA, 27 showed evidence of OSA, and 5 subjects withdrew from the project.

We are still in the process of collecting data regarding healthcare usage during the 12 months each employee was in the study. Our targeted completion date is October 8, 2009. Once all data have been collected we will be able to make assertions and findings that are statistically significant. However, of the 65 employee volunteers there are 11 employees diagnosed with OSA using their CPAP devices for 4 or more hours per night, preliminary data shows a trend of reduction in healthcare spending. (To date, the reduction in spending in this group of employees is down from an average of approximately $3,900 per employee to $205 per employee.) The premise of the trial does appear to be valid – patients suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea use more healthcare than non-OSA sufferers. During the next year, we will continue to collect compliance and healthcare spending data to determine what effects CPAP set-up and screening have on healthcare costs of OSA patients.

Lance Allan of TODAY’S TMJ4, the NBC affiliate in Milwaukee, is one good sport!  Not only does he do a great job of reporting sports news, he’s also a great sport, himself, for being willing to be “roasted” in a benefit for the Reggie White Sleep Disorders Research & Education Foundation on April 18 at the Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee.

The evening is sure to be great fun, and proceeds will benefit the Foundation’s mission of providing sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment to people whose socio-economic status makes it impossible for them to access the healthcare services they need.

For more information on the Roast, and how one lucky person can actually participate in roasting Lance, please visit the Foundation’s website.

More than 500 people died on Wisconsin roads last year.

“Some deaths were caused by speeding while others were a result of drunk driving, or not wearing a seat belt. Tragically, these deaths affect many lives and cause great pain to thousands of people throughout the state. Fortunately, you can help change that number.”  So says the State of Wisconsin’s very well-intentioned web site.

But, in a very clear error, either of omission or of understanding, the State runs a television spot frequently about not wearing one’s seat belt.  Again, a very noble thought.  However, as you will be able to see from the advertisement that is called “Reality – Seat Belt,” they have missed a truly significant, even life saving point.  Take a look at it and see if you can figure out what it is …  www.zeroinwisconsin.gov/mediaspots.html

The driver in the spot is not only not wearing a seat belt … he is asleep at the wheel.  He is, as too many people fail to realize, one of those ticking time bombs waiting to go off on our roads … the drowsy driver.

Taking a look at his thick neck and overweight body frame, it is likely that this driver has obstructive sleep apnea, which is just as likely to take his life … and the lives of others on the road … as not wearing his seatbelt or driving drunk.

One can only hope that the State of Wisconsin … and ALL states … will get the idea soon that drowsy drivers are a MAJOR threat to the health and lives of all people on the roads.

Steve Gardner

The Sleep Wellness Institute

The cost of diabetes in this country will rise to more than $200 billion per year. That point makes it more important than ever that medical professionals include asking questions about sleep while making their diagnosis, since it has now been shown that 58% of diabetics have some form of sleep disordered breathing.

At the same time, 40% of all obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients have diabetes.

In  patients who have both, the most commonly prescribed treatment for OSA, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) can help in the more effective management of diabetes, thereby reducing hospitalizations and healthcare costs related to diabetes.

If you or someone in your family has diabetes, snores at night and feels exhausted during the day, ask your physician about sleep apnea.  It’s too important to ignore.

Steve Gardner

Sleep Wellness Institute

A gentleman named Ken recently recorded a brief video about his experience with CPAP, which is now posted on our website http://www.shareyourcpapstory.com. Click here to view Ken’s story.

We’ve designed Share Your CPAP Story to help those people who may be discouraged with the way their CPAP therapy is working out.  We hope it will encourage those people to stay with it, and to advocate for themselves when something may seem wrong.

By advocating for yourself, we mean asking your CPAP supplier if they have more than one mask you can try.  Can you bring it back and try another if you’re uncomfortable?  Most of all, demand that they provide you with service after the sale.  If your mask is leaking, or feels uncomfortable, or you’re getting water in your tubing, demand that they help you.  It’s their job.

And it’s your life.

Please visit www.shareyourcpapstory.com

Steve Gardner

The Sleep Wellness Institute

Here’s good news for all those who use CPAP therapy for sleep apnea and would like some tips on making things easier.

Mark Stoiber, President of the Sleep Wellness Institute, has published a book entitled “How to Guarantee Your Experience with CPAP is a Happy One.” Mark has 21 years of experience in the sleep disorders field and has seen literally thousands of people turn their lives around from the misery of terrible sleep to the joy and relief of refreshing, restorative sleep through CPAP therapy.

You can download Mark’s book for $3.75 through clicking here. You can also order a paperback copy for $7.97. If you buy the paperback version, $1.00 will automatically be donated to the Reggie White Sleep Disorders Research & Education Foundation.

Steve Gardner

The Sleep Wellness Institute will open CPAP2GO, a retail store specializing in continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, masks and supplies that are used to help many people with obstructive sleep apnea, on July 8. It will be the only store of its kind in Wisconsin operated by a sleep disorders center.

The store, at 7017 S. 27th Street, Franklin, will be open Monday through Saturday, with evening hours Monday through Friday. It will be staffed by specially trained employees, most of whom are on CPAP therapy, themselves, and will feature the “30/30 Advantage” – an in-stock supply of more than 30 masks and a free 30 night comfort and fit guarantee. Much of the equipment will be covered by most health insurance.

According to Sleep Wellness Institute President Mark Stoiber, the store is a natural development given the success of the Institute’s professional CPAP services. “Our approach to working with people on CPAP has yielded more than an 85% compliance rate with treatment, as opposed to about 55% nationwide,” he explained. “We believe we can successfully grow our business while helping more people by having a store located in a convenient, high traffic retail business area.”

People with sleep apnea are aroused briefly several times per hour every night as the tissues around their airway collapse and prevent them from breathing. Complications can include cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, and even death. The CPAP equipment provides a continuous, gentle positive air flow that keeps the patient’s airway open and eliminates snoring. It is considered the “gold standard” in treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.

“Expert knowledge, wide selection and an unmatched dedication to customer service will be the hallmarks of CPAP2GO,” Stoiber said. “All too often we encounter people who have purchased CPAP equipment elsewhere, including from the internet, and then have been unable to get the follow-up service they need, at the times they need it. We intend to make a difference for those people.”

Stoiber said the store will offer the same CPAP products and service that are provided at the Sleep Wellness Institute, but in a second location that offers excellent freeway access and foot traffic. It is located in front of a Lowe’s Home Improvement center, he noted.

The store will be managed by Cody Glorioso, who is the director of the Sleep Wellness Institute’s durable medical equipment department. The store’s telephone number will be 414-761-CPAP (2727). A website, http://www.cpap2go.net provides more information.

NOTE:  A second store has opened in Waukesha.  See our blog post “New CPAP2GO Store Opens Today.”

The Sleep Wellness Institute is Wisconsin’s largest independent sleep disorders treatment center. It is fully accredited to diagnose and treat sleep disorders among adults and children by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.