Obstructive Sleep Apnea in SCI

Alexis H, a spinal cord injury unit nurse, approaches you on rounds one morning. She reports that she noticed Ms. MB having apneic episodes while sleeping, with the episodes lasting up to a few seconds. You question Ms. MB, who reports she has awakened frequently through the night for several weeks since the neurosurgery. She awakens in the morning feeing tired. Over the same time period, she constantly felt fatigued. She and others have attributed these symptoms to anxiety, worry, and the noise of the hospital ward at night.

Describe sleep apnea, its prevalence in SCI, the types of treatment and their associated evidence.
1. Patients with SCI have a high prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea, and therapy may improve quality of life and other outcomes. Treatments include lifestyle counseling (i.e., weight loss, avoidance of alcohol), continuous positive airway pressure therapy, mandibular advancement devices (dental splints) and upper airway surgery. Evidence is limited.

For more information please see: Obstructive Sleep Apnea in SCI